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, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya at Dire Dawa, Ethiopia from 8th to 10th December 2014. The meeting was attended by a total of 49 participants drawn from Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya,, African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), FAO, Oxfam and USAID.
In his welcome remarks – presented by Dr Henry Wamwayi – the Director, AU-IBAR Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy noted that despite the abundant livestock resources in the Greater Horn of Africa, several constraints hinder their full exploitation. Key among these are TADs, poor policy environment, unregulated livestock movement and lack of harmonisation and coordination of disease control programmes. He further reiterated that SMP-AH interventions are intended to catalyse cooperation, and enhance intra-and inter-regional trade. Historically, cross-border meetings played a big role in the eradication of Rinderpest and still act as a plausible avenue for facilitating sharing of information and experience among participating countries.
The representative of USAID, Mr Isaac Njoro Thendiu, appreciated the great efforts made by AU-IBAR towards organizing cross-border meetings and initiating programmes that synergize and complement similar projects such as SMP-AH and STSD.
In his official opening, Dr Bewket Siraw, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Ethiopia, noted the enormous poverty among communities despite owning large numbers of livestock, mainly because of low livestock productivity and production as a result of disease-related losses. Standardization of surveillance and disease control was therefore envisaged to increase trade in livestock and livestock products between Member States.
Participating countries highlighted major gaps, key challenges, good practices and lessons-learnt. Notable good practices shared were: Past and ongoing initiatives to organize regular cross border meetings; Adoption of guidelines for coordinated and harmonized standard methods to the control of TADS e.g. SMP-AH operating procedures; Availability of quarantine facilities and abattoirs in some IGAD MS that meet international animal health standards; Community resource and information sharing arrangements across the border; Use of Livestock professional Association, community resource persons for disease reporting and surveillance in Somalia; M.O.U signed between member states to facilitate cross border collaboration e.g. Kenya-Uganda or Kenya-Ethiopia; ASAL Radio Animal Health Programme – Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (FAO sponsored); Coordinated surveillance system that led to eradication of Rinderpest in the region; and Deployment of rapid response teams e.g. in Somaliland.
Considering the aforementioned, the meeting recommended the following:
- National veterinary authorities to improve surveillance in terms of coverage, robustness and coordination,
- Cross-border task forces to support the development/review and implementation of MOUs,
- Relevant veterinary administrative units (districts and counties) along the borders to attend future cross-border meetings,
- Countries to implement disease control according to their national disease control strategies,
- Directorates of Veterinary Services to take more responsibility in TADs control rather than leaving it to devolved or federal governments,
- Member States to address the problem of inadequate diagnostic infrastructure and scanty diagnostic services in cross-border areas,
- Member States to investigate possible poor quality drugs, including improper use of antibiotics in cross-border areas and
- Member States to provide a framework facilitating animal health information sharing between frontline veterinary staff and their counterparts in border areas.
Finally, the meeting agreed that the action plan developed would be incorporated in the national activities by SMP-AH national focal points, focussing mainly on PPR, CCPP, CBPP, Camel pox, SGP and FMD as priority diseases in the Somali Ecosystem. Somaliland was identified as the host for the next cross-border meeting for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya.