In a bid to discuss cooperation and collaboration on information sharing and prevention and control of trade-related Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) at ecosystem level for purposes of facilitating cross-border livestock movement, SMP-AH project held a cross-border meeting for Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda at Gulu, Uganda from 11th to 13th November 2014. The meeting was attended by a total of 45 participants drawn from South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), FAO and Mercy Corps.
In his welcome remarks, the Director, AU-IBAR – Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy, represented by Prof. James Wabacha, reiterated the importance of cross-border meetings in facilitating sharing of animal health information and exchanging experience among participating countries. He further noted that cross-border harmonization and coordination of surveillance and control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) largely facilitated movement of animals for trade and pasture. In his opening remarks, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Uganda, Dr Nicholas Kauta emphasized the need to observe standards while addressing the challenge of TADs in border areas. He recognized that Karamoja cluster had been a reservoir for TADs over the years, whose control had been hindered by security issues that undermined coordination and harmonization of control programmes.
Participating countries highlighted major gaps, key challenges, good practices and lessons-learnt. Notable good practices shared were: multi-stakeholders meetings as exemplified by the Turkana-Amudat cooperation, and the cooperation between veterinary officers and human health staff in control of rabies, RVF and ASF in Busia; community networks for intelligence; joint disease control programmes e.g. vaccination, joint surveillance programmes, imposition of quarantine in case of disease outbreaks at government and community level; ongoing negotiated cross border movement of animals for trade and pasture; adoption of technology in disease surveillance and information sharing such as the Digital Pen Technology for disease reporting; sharing of water and pasture between the Karamojong people of Uganda and Turkana of Kenya, and between the Dukana community in Kenya and the Dilo community of Ethiopia ; establishment of check points and holding grounds to control livestock movement; and sharing of information through veterinary forums and professional associations.
Furthermore, Kenya was commended for initiating livestock export zones in Bachuma, Kurawa and Mirithi - a concept based on a phased approach in disease management where animals are cleaned and certified as being free of identified diseases through an agreed plan between Kenya and the importing country. The meeting noted that such initiatives would go a long way to facilitate access of livestock and livestock products to local, regional and international markets in an endemic disease situation. The undertaking was envisaged to:
- increase trade in live animals and animal products to international markets;
- generate additional revenue to the national economy from the livestock sector;
- produce additional quality meat for local and export market; and
- create employment.
The meeting acknowledged major achievements made by the SMP-AH project todate that included:
- development of SMPs for 9 TADs and 1 for quarantine;
- country work plans;
- initiatives on animal identification and traceability systems (LITS) piloted;
- veterinarians trained on risk analysis;
- 114 ARIS II administrators and users trained;
- 24 veterinary staff trained on Management Skills Development;
- 28 veterinarians trained on epidemiology and surveillance;
- 22 quarantine stakeholders trained;
- 24 veterinary staff undergoing training in laboratory techniques;
- vaccine laboratories of NVI and KEVEVAPI supported with materials and equipment to enhance quality and quality of vaccine production ; and
- the North Eastern Africa Livestock Council (NEALCO) supported. In addition, 14 officials made an exposure tour to Oregon and Texas, USA to acquaint themselves with the principles and practice of SMP-AH approach in regional disease control.
The meeting also discussed the surveillance of Trade Sensitive Diseases (STSD) project and its implementation in the region. The meeting acknowledge several activities already implemented by the STSD project.
Considering the aforementioned, the meeting recommended the following:
- the need for the three countries to develop or improve disease control strategies for identified priority diseases i.e. PPR, FMD, CBPP and CCPP;
- Local Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for cross-border activities to be developed and signed between countries within the EAC and IGAD Animal Health Policy Framework;
- the need for real-time sharing of information across the borders, between ministries and research stations and training institutions; and
- different actors, including projects and institutions, to support and contribute to the implementation of the planned cross-border activities.
As a way forward, the meeting agreed on the following:
- SMP-AH national focal points were to incorporate agreed action plans into national activities in preparation for implementation;
- action plans resulting from the cross-border meeting were to be implemented by participating countries with SMP-AH support; and
- South Sudan was identified as the host country for the next cross-border meeting for Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda.