The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal health (SMP-AH) project held a workshop in Addis Ababa from 16th -18th February 2015 to review the progress made in the implementation of the project in 2014, discuss challenges experienced and generate solutions for efficient and effective implementation of activities during 2015. The meeting was attended by a total of 24 participants drawn from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Africa Union African Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC), Kenya Veterinary Vaccines and Production Institute (KEVEVAPI), National Veterinary Vaccine Institute (NVI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In his welcome remarks, Dr. James Wabacha on behalf of the Director, AU-IBAR – Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy – acknowledged the importance of Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) in the region and their negative impact on livestock production and trade. He appreciated efforts made by the SMP-AH project in addressing challenges resulting from TADs in the region. He recognized that the SMP-AH project had so far developed the Standard Methods and Procedures (SMPs) for nine priority diseases in addition to supporting training programmes, vaccine production laboratories, country activities as well as the North Eastern Africa Livestock Council (NEALCO), a regional commodity association. In addition, the SMP-AH project is supporting Livestock identification and traceability (LITs) activities. In his opening remarks, Dr Ameha Sebsibe, the representative for ICPALD/IGAD, reiterated the need to critically review progress and consider past lessons in the planning. He further noted the need to consider mainstreaming SMPs in the plans for 2015. Mr Walter Ong'eng'a, the representative for USAID, emphasized the importance of ensuring that project activities achieve impact among primary beneficiaries (livestock keepers) in the region. He reiterated the need to always have the end results in mind in order to implement relevant activities that will create impact on beneficiaries. To achieve the desired impacts, AU-IBAR, participating countries and other stakeholders had to identify relevant activities, indicators set for impacts, set targets and monitor the same throughout the project life cycle. This, he said, would ensure that activities focus on achieving expected results. The success of harmonization of SMPs would only be realized if all participating countries demonstrated their willingness to implement them. Finally, the meeting was officially opened by Dr Samuel Mullat, on behalf of Dr Bewket Siraw, the Chief Veterinary Officer for Ethiopia. He noted that TADs are some of the main determinants for food security given that they reduce production. He noted that TADs have remained important challenges in the region. He therefore thanked the SMP-AH project for developing expertise to contribute to cost-effective reduction of TADs, improve livelihoods, and trade. He acknowledged the spirit of harmonization of disease surveillance and control to improve trade as fostered through the SMPs. This, he said, would help create confidence among importers of livestock and livestock products from the region.