The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) project in partnership with ICPALD organized a technical back-stopping workshop for ARIS Administrators in the IGAD region in Naivasha, Kenya from 9th to 10th June 2015. The workshop discussed means of strengthening capacities in individual countries for data handling and sharing livestock information. Among others, countries shared updates on the status of ARIS II functioning and operations. A total of 13 participants drawn from Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda AU-IBAR and IGAD attended the workshop.
In his welcome remarks, Dr Solomon Munyua, Acting Director of the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) welcomed Member States (MS) to the workshop. He recognized the importance of data management performed by the ARIS II Country Administrators especially in informing planning for animal exports and animal breeding. He noted that MS needed to embrace management of animal resources data with seriousness to help them determine investments for national governments. Dr Munyua expressed his concern about the low status of reporting in MS that is affecting the planning process for governments that normally depends on accurate information. He appealed to MS to collect data and submit it in a timely manner.
In his opening remarks, on behalf of the Director of African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources – Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy, Dr Joseph Magona recognized the continued partnerships between AU-IBAR and IGAD/ICPALD and MS regarding development of animal resources in the region. He reiterated the fact that agriculture in general and livestock in particular are amongst the most important drivers of the economies of the IGAD Member States, and employ a large proportion of their population. He emphasized that development of these sectors requires qualitative, complete and timely data and information to support monitoring, planning and decision making. He stated that the ARIS technical back-stopping workshop was intended to provide MS with technical corrective service regarding animal health data collection, collation and analysis in preparation for sharing. He encouraged MS to embrace utilization of ARIS at various levels to promote effective management of livestock data.
In his official opening, on behalf of the Director Veterinary Services of Kenya, Dr Samuel Kahariri pointed out the importance of animal disease reporting as a way of accessing international markets.
Upon fruitful deliberations, the meeting recommended the following:
- To simplify the ARIS system to make it user-friendly and interoperable with other systems especially information systems used by Member States
- To develop a feedback and alerting mechanism within the ARIS system or through an in-built e-mail system or by telephone call by an identified a contact person to alert Country Administrators to validate the data once it is received and uploaded
- To improve ARIS system to allow for sequential and self-verifying data entry to avoid time-consuming data entry and uploading
- To expedite development of the long overdue new ARIS system and harmonise it with other animal disease reporting systems such as OIE-WAHIS
- To organize a meeting for Country ARIS II Administrators to verify the new version of ARIS before it is released
- To conduct refresher trainings regularly to update the Country Administrators on ARIS II especially focussing on other areas such as animal production, marketing and trade, fisheries and aquaculture, capacity and plant health
- To encourage data submission using excel spreadsheets for Member States with no or poor internet connectivity
- To ensure any product developed using ARIS data is first validated by respective countries for their input and action for data sharing
- To bring Ethiopia on board regarding livestock information sharing within IGAD region given its very critical and strategic location within the IGAD region
- To encourage MS to re-centralized animal disease control given that decentralization or devolution has affected disease reporting and delivery of veterinary services in several MS
To AU-IBAR and ICPALD
- To develop a data sharing policy to facilitate livestock data sharing among countries within the IGAD region
- To provide more technical and financial support to animal disease reporting within MS in the IGAD region
- To send livestock data directly to ICPALD via ARIS and Excel Spreadsheets
- To undertake community awareness initiatives at national level to address the issue of data dissemination within the country
- To encourage livestock data sharing among relevant line ministries and line departments
- To develop an incentive system within countries in order to improve efficiency and reliability of livestock data collection and submission via ARIS
- To link national livestock data managers to animal health personnel at lower administrative levels despite devolution or decentralization of governments
- To address the problem of high levels of staff attrition through various management options including having an Assistant Country Administrator who is technically at the same level as the Country Administrator
As a way forward, Country ARIS Administrators were encouraged to commence sending of livestock data, including disease, animal production, fisheries and trade data to ICPALD. In addition, AU-IBAR was requested to immediately put in place the feedback mechanism for ARIS II Administrators. Finally, ICPALD was requested to kick-start implementation of the Networking for the Country ARISII Administrators within the IGAD region.