Animal Health Stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania Meet to Discuss Harmonization and Coordination of the Cross Border Management of Transboundary Animal Diseases

7th August 2014, Mwanza, Tanzania
Animal health stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania meet to discuss harmonization and coordination of the cross border prevention and control of trade-related transboundary animal diseases.

Animal health stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania held a three-day meeting in Mwanza, Tanzania from 25th -27th, August 2014 to discuss collaboration on the prevention and control of trade-related transboundary animal diseases (TADs) at cross border areas and to enhance information sharing.

The meeting was organized by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) within the framework of the Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A total of 30 participants attended the meeting including CVOs from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, USAID, IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), veterinary technical staff from the participating countries, and community leaders from border areas.

Transboundary animal diseases are a key constraint to livestock production and trade in the Greater Horn of Africa. The diseases have previously resulted in livestock trade bans by the importing countries in the Middle East due to fear of introduction of the diseases, especially Rift Valley fever which also endangers human health. Livestock in the pastoral areas move across international borders for feed, water and trade, and therefore control of TADs requires collaboration and cooperation between countries.

To address the common challenge of TADs, the SMP-AH project is supporting collaboration among the countries in the Greater Horn of Africa for more efficient and effective surveillance, prevention and control of TADs. The meeting thus brought the three countries together to achieve this in a coordinated and harmonized fashion.

The participants shared knowledge, exchanged experiences, good practices and lessons learned in disease surveillance and control. They also identified key challenges in delivery of animal health services in general and in cross border areas in particular.

Going forward, the countries agreed to implement joint work plans in cross border areas to address the identified challenges in promoting livestock production, trade and livelihoods of livestock dependent communities.

The participants urged countries to put mechanisms in place to sustain the sharing of information as well as the results of the project beyond project life. They also impressed upon countries the need to formalize cross border disease control activities through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) preferably signed at an ecosystem level, such as Karamoja or Somali ecosystems among others, rather than between counties or local governments. The countries with experience on decentralized/devolved systems of governance were encouraged to share best practices and lessons on disease control with the other countries.

The importance of exit strategies was underscored, such as formulation of project proposals to sustain current activities and results. Given the important role played by trade-related infrastructure in disease control, animal welfare and trade, national and local governments were encouraged to establish appropriate trade-related infrastructure including quarantine stations.

In his welcome remarks – presented by Dr. James Wabacha – the Director of AU-IBAR, Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy thanked the Government of Tanzania for hosting the meeting. He further noted that several challenges hinder the full exploitation of livestock resources, among which were TADs that are the main focus of the SMP-AH project. Mr Isaac Thendiu, the representative for USAID reiterated the need for the project to achieve tangible and visible results at community-level that would be sustained beyond the project lifespan. The Chief Veterinary Officer for Tanzania, Dr Abdu Hayghaimo emphasized the project focus of minimizing TADs at border areas in order to facilitate cross border trade. The meeting was officially opened by Mr N. Kurwijila, the Regional Administrative Secretary for Mwanza, who thanked the United States Government through USAID for supporting the East Africa Community (EAC) region through the implementation of the SMP-AH project.

"Lack of harmonization of surveillance and disease control, and differing animal health approaches and procedures amongst the Horn of Africa countries remain the key constraints hampering TADs control", noted Dr. Wabacha in his presentation on the SMP-AH approach. He recognized IGAD, AU-IBAR, USAID, USDA, ILRI, OIE and FAO among others as important partners.

To date the SMP-AH project:

  1. has developed SMPs for 10 TADs;
  2. is implementing country work plans;
  3. is undertaking pilot initiatives on animal identification and traceability systems (LITS);
  4. has trained 28 veterinary staff on disease surveillance and laboratory work;
  5. has trained 114 ARIS II administrators and users;
  6. has trained 26 quarantine stakeholders; and
  7. has supported the North Eastern Africa Livestock Council (NEALCO).

In addition, 24 veterinary staff have been trained on Management Skills Development at Kenya School of Government and Chief Veterinary Officers from the GHoA and other veterinary officials made a study tour to Oregon and Texas in the United States of America.