Elevating Trade Security: Strengthening Import Risk Analysis for Animal and Animal Product Authorities

Tue, 29-08-2023 15:00:00

The month of July 2023 witnessed an event in Kampala, Uganda, which brought attention to the significant convergence of Africa's agricultural and commercial sectors. The Import Risk Analysis Training for Competent Authorities involved in Trade in Animals and Animal Products brought together a varied group of specialists and delegates from several African countries. The primary goal of this initiative was to enhance their competence in risk analysis, with the overarching objective of protecting the welfare of humans, animals, and the environment. This initiative also provided consistent backing to regional and national priorities, particularly in the areas of ensuring access to food and promoting the smooth flow of trade in livestock and related products.

Setting the Stage:
The event commenced with opening remarks by Professor Dr. James Wabacha, representing the Acting Director of AU-IBAR, Dr. Nick Nwankpa. Professor Wabacha expressed gratitude to the host government and highlighted the training's significance in safeguarding health and trade interests. He acknowledged the member states for their participation and looked forward to their active involvement throughout the program.

Dr. Annie Rose Ademun Okurut, Commissioner of Animal Health and Chief Veterinary Officer of Uganda, warmly welcomed all participants, reaffirming the importance of the training in line with the goals outlined by the Acting Director of AU-IBAR.

The Training:
The training, held from July 19 to 21, 2023, addressed critical issues in light of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), specifically focusing on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures as detailed in Agreement Annex 7. This agreement seeks to strengthen legislation and regulations across regional economic communities (RECs) and member states, aligning them with international standards and scientific risk analysis to facilitate agricultural product trade.

The primary aim of the training was to enhance the capacity of competent authorities involved in import risk analysis within Africa. This was achieved by adopting a rigorous and well-founded approach to assessing disease risks associated with the importation of animals and animal products. Such a systematic approach empowers importing countries to make informed decisions regarding imports, ensuring the safety of their populations and livestock.

Fifteen experienced and knowledgeable participants were selected from eleven different African member states. The countries represented included Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zambia. The diverse group of attendees underscored the regional importance of this training.

Training Content:
The training materials were developed around three disease examples - Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) - all of which can play significant roles as import risks. The specific training materials included:
•    Principles for conducting transparent, objective, and defensible risk analysis for international animal trade.
•    Components of risk analysis, encompassing hazard identification, risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication.
•    Principles of risk assessment.
•    The step-by-step process of risk assessment.
•    Strategies for risk management.
•    Principles of risk communication.

Objectives and Outputs:
The training aimed to achieve several key objectives and outputs, including:
•    Equipping competent authorities with knowledge and skills in import risk analysis based on World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards.
•    Empowering competent authorities in importing countries to conduct transparent, objective, and defensible risk analyses for international trade.
•    Engaging competent authorities with practical case scenarios related to disease risks associated with importation, covering hazard identification, risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication.
•    Ultimately, improving the performance of national veterinary services within AU member states concerning the assessment of disease risks associated with the importation of animals and animal products.

As the training concluded, it was recommended that AU-IBAR continue organizing such practical knowledge-sharing events. These forums would facilitate the exchange of practical insights and skills on import risk analysis among member states. Additionally, producing protocols documenting the practical risk analysis skills and experiences of participants from various AU member states was suggested to further enrich the training resources.

The Import Risk Analysis Training for Competent Authorities engaged in Trade in Animals and Animal Products held in Kampala, Uganda, represents a significant step toward bolstering Africa's ability to engage in international trade while safeguarding the health of its people and livestock. By equipping competent authorities with the tools and knowledge necessary to conduct robust risk analysis, this training contributes to the overarching goals of regional economic communities and member states, enhancing food security and promoting the trade of agricultural products across the continent. Africa's path to sustainable and secure trade in animals and animal products is brighter thanks to such collaborative efforts.