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Sustainability of FAO Technical Support for Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia Control

Dr. W. Amanfu,

Animal Health Officer (Bacterial and Zoonotic diseases), AGAH


A precise definition of the term sustainability is difficult to obtain. The closest that seems to address the issue of sustainability and relates to FAO’s diseases such as contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) is that of Gro Harlem Brundtland in which she states “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This definition contains two key concepts, namely:

Applying Brundtland’s definition to the greater burden of sustainability of FAO technical assistance projects in CBPP and other animal disease control lies in a partnership approach involving governments, the donor community and FAO in which the needs are addressed together with the application of the appropriate technology to solve animal disease outbreak problems.

CBPP has been a major cause of cattle mortality and production losses in many parts of Africa. Being an OIE List A[1] disease and with implications for rapid spread between herds and across international borders, CBPP has engaged the attention and resources of the FAO for many years in attempts to curb the spread of the disease and limit its devastating economic effects, especially at the village or community level. The institution of FAO Emergency Prevention System for Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) programme in 1994 by its Director General, Jacques Diouf, provided additional impetus for the progressive control of CBPP among six other priority animal diseases. The main objective of the animal diseases component of EMPRES is to assist member nations of the FAO in the progressive control of the major epidemic diseases of livestock through facilitating effective implementation of national and regional control strategies (early warning and early reaction systems and enabling research) within an environment of international co-ordination and cooperation. Since its inception, EMPRES precepts have been consistently applied in attempts to curb the outbreaks of the disease in Africa. This paper assesses the current epidemiological situation of CBPP in countries that have benefited from FAO technical assistance in the control of the disease and to draw lessons from the current situation of the disease in those countries that could be crucial in the evolution of sustainable control strategies for the future.

General Epidemiological Observations

CBPP is caused by Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides SC (small colony, variant) (Mmm SC). The disease is present in West, Central, East and parts of Southern Africa but not North Africa (4). From a historical perspective, CBPP was a disease of Europe and Asia. A comprehensive historical account of the spread of CBPP in view of the economic significance of the disease in Europe and Africa in the 19th century has been provided by Windsor (5). With the near eradication of rinderpest in Africa (except the Somali ecosystem), CBPP has become the most significant epidemic disease of cattle in Africa with 22 countries reporting outbreaks of the disease in 2003 (4). The disease was present in the Iberian Peninsula [(Portugal-1999, declared free in 05/2003 at the 70th session of the OIE, Spain-1994) and Italy (1993)] during the past decade. The presence of the disease in Asia has not been clearly defined although Myanmar (1995) and other countries Bangladesh (1997), China (1996), Qatar (1997), Kuwait (1991) reported the disease for the last time in the years indicated against their names (4). India, as recently as October 2003 (4), declared herself provisionally free from CBPP (with vaccination). The disease has never been reported in South America.

CBPP is spread by direct contact between infected and susceptible cattle. Introduction of the disease into susceptible cattle populations results in widespread mortality. In the chronic stage, the disease is insidious in nature with variable clinical course that makes epidemiological study of CBPP based on clinical manifestation alone, difficult. Molecular epidemiological studies conducted by Lorenzon et al. (3) on 44 strains of MmmSC obtained from wide geographical sources, demonstrated three distinct lineages of MmmSC circulating in Africa. This tool, termed multilocus sequencing analysis, could be useful in distinguishing between different types of Mmm SC, especially in countries carrying out control/eradication programmes and requiring tools to trace the origin of remaining or re-emerging CBPP foci.

FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme

The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) of FAO was launched in 1976 as an essential tool to make FAO’s specialized competence more readily available to member countries for the solution of their most pressing development problems in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. Through TCPs, FAO allocates limited, but identifiable resources to fulfil one of its key constitutional functions, i.e. to provide such technical assistance as governments may request. It is an integral part of the Organization’s Regular Programme, financed from its assessed budget. In particular, TCP is the instrument that enables FAO to respond rapidly to urgent needs for technical and emergency assistance in member countries and to contribute to their capacity building. The main features of TCP are its extemporised and urgent character; its flexibility in responding to new technical issues and problems, clear focus, limited project intervention with short duration, low costs, and practical orientation, and as a catalytic role for in-country or region uptake. By design and in practice, TCP meets unforeseen needs, fills critical gaps, complements other forms of assistance and promotes resource availability for technical cooperation in the above fields. Requests for technical assistance under the programme may be presented by governments of member countries that qualify for development assistance under the UN system and by intergovernmental organizations of which such countries are members, and are recognized as such by the UN system and FAO. The EMPRES programme of FAO’s Animal Health Service has been active in assisting countries to meet animal disease emergencies such as outbreaks of CBPP and other transboundary animal diseases through the instrumentality of TCPs.

With reference to request by member countries for assistance in the control of CBPP, the following CBPP specific projects have been undertaken from 1990-2003:

i) TCP/RAF/6611, Regional Project (East Africa) Prevention of transboundary spread of CBPP from Southern Tanzania to neighbouring countries. Duration 24 months 1996-1998. FAO Contribution US$ 381,743;

ii) TCP/RAF/0172, Regional Project (West Africa) Coordinated programme to strengthen capacity for epidemio-surveillance of CBPP. Duration 24 months 2001-2003. FAO Contribution US$ 387,000;

iii) TCP/RAF/2809, Regional Project (SADC) Control of FMD and other transboundary animal diseases in Southern Africa. Duration 18 months. FAO Contribution US$ 351,000;

iv) TCP/BOT/4452E, Surveillance for the control of CBPP. Duration 12 Months extended for further 12 months. 1995-1997. FAO Contribution: US$180,000;

v) TCP/BOT/6712E, (Phase II). Duration 12 Months. FAO Contribution US$ 79,000;

vi) TCP/BDI/8821, Campagne de prophylaxie contre la péripneumonie contagieuse bovine et surveillance epidemiologique de la peste bovine. Duration 24 months; 1998-2000. FAO contribution, US$310,000;

vii) TCP/ANG/8992, Surveillance et Contrôle de la péripneumonie contagieuse et d’autres . Duration 24 Months; 1999-2001. Total FAOmaladies Contribution US$ 291,190;

viii) TCP/URT/0058, Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia Emergency control. 1990-1991. Duration 12 months. Contribution US$ 275,000;

ix) TCP/MAU/6611 Renforcement des capacités de diagnostic et de surveillance épidémiologique de la péripneumonie contagieuse bovine. Duration 24 Months 1996-1998. FAO Contribution US$ 198,500;

x) TCP/MLW/4552, Protection from transboundary spread of CBPP. 1995-1997. Duration 24 months. FAO Contribution, US$ 191,200;

xi) TCP/ZAM/6714, Emergency control of CBPP in Western Zambia. Duration 24 Months, 1997-1999. FAO Contribution US$370,000;

xii) TCP/ZAM/0169, Emergency control of transboundary animal diseases (CBPP and ASF). Duration 12 Months 2002-On-going. FAO Contribution US$297,000 UNHCR Contribution-US$68,000;

xiii) TCP/SUD/2908, Surveillance for CBPP and CCPP in the Sudan (Advance Allocation). Duration 3 months. July-September, 2003. FAO Contribution US$11,000.

Although the cumulative financial outlay for all these regional and country specific CBPP control programmes appear miniscule (US$ 3,322,633) in relation to the magnitude of the problem, financial provisions made in these projects and activities envisaged for project implementation, fulfilled critical needs and gaps in the overall strategy for the control of CBPP. The principal elements of prime consideration in the control of CBPP through the provisions of TCPs are the prime pillars of EMPRES that is; early warning, early reaction, contingency planning, enabling research and coordination. These elements are incorporated in the design of projects to ensure effective resolution of outbreaks.


Provision of laboratory equipment, diagnostic reagents, laboratory media and other consumables help to augment technical capacity to diagnose the disease and provide tentative confirmatory evidence of CBPP outbreaks before final confirmation by a FAO/OIE designated reference laboratory. Such activity serves as a basis for early warning/early reaction and the drawing up of contingency plans for effective CBPP control. The supply of GIS equipment and the use of the FAO-developed software system and database, TADinfo, to assist in geo-referencing of outbreaks and provide a basis for spatial and temporal analysis of outbreak trends for the adoption of counter epizootic measures. Disease recognition through the provision of manuals, publications, CD-ROMs, and videos, are integral parts of awareness creation and critical components of disease surveillance systems and disease management.

Capacity building

Most countries have a complement of competent trained specialists in the basic fields of CBPP control, laboratory diagnosis, data management, extension and in some cases, vaccine production. This provides a sound platform on which to build. In addition to assistance for establishing emergency preparedness in the control of CBPP, there is primarily, a need for technical assistance to transfer laboratory and surveillance technology - much of which has been developed by FAO and the Joint Division FAO/IAEA in Vienna, to member countries affected by the disease. Interaction and technical support from consultants, in country training workshops, study tours, development of country specific or regional strategies for the control of CBPP by FAO staff, consultants (international and partnership programmes) have been instrumental in capacity building for effective control of CBPP. Livestock dominates the livelihood activities and strategies of pastoralists. Therefore within the pastoral communities, capacity building in animal disease control is recognized as a key component in the development of overall strategy to control animal diseases such as CBPP. Such recognition is designed into TCPs to ensure long-term sustainability of control strategies

Summary of status of FAO projects related to CBPP control

Two regional projects for East and West Africa have been closed. Key elements of these projects in CBPP control were regional cooperation and coordination of control strategies for the disease, regional referral laboratories strengthened and stakeholder awareness in disease recognition conducted. Although CBPP is prevalent in the East African region, Malawi has been able to maintain its CBPP-free status due to improved surveillance for the disease especially along its northern border with Tanzania through the provisions of TCP/RAF/6611. The regional project for CBPP in West Africa (TCP/RAF/0172) strengthened laboratories through the supply of inputs. CBPP disease reporting from the region has improved and there is better collaboration in disease information sharing and stakeholder recognition of the disease. The sustainability of these completed regional projects will depend among other things, on continued cooperation and transparency in animal disease information sharing. The regional project for SADC countries is still on going. One of the major outputs of the project has been a workshop with Chief Veterinary Officers of SADC countries in Pretoria, South Africa at which regional strategies to control CBPP in affected SADC member countries and strategies to prevent the entry of disease into free areas and thereby jeopardize the livestock and allied industries were drawn up. This project proposal has now been submitted for possible donor funding. The TCP project in Botswana approved in 1995 was very instrumental in launching a coordinated national surveillance system for CBPP in Botswana which served as the technical basis for a decision to slaughter 320, 000 cattle to rid the country of the disease. Through the establishment of laboratory diagnostic capability, staff training and government commitment to the support of the veterinary sector, Botswana has sustained the key elements of this project and has obtained CBPP disease free status from the OIE. The country still carries out bi-annual serological and clinical surveillance during their foot-and-mouth disease vaccination campaigns to ensure continued freedom from CBPP. The assistance to Angola was primarily on improvements in CBPP surveillance capabilities. Since the project ended in 2001, there has been limited follow up activities. With the end of the civil war, it is expected that CBPP surveillance activities will be stepped up to serve as a basis for targeted control of the disease and minimise the risk of transmission of CBPP to neighbouring Zambia. Burundi benefited from the improvements in disease surveillance and provision of vaccines for the control of CBPP. Since the project ended in 2000, there has been little follow up action. Mauritania benefited from improvements in laboratory capabilities in the diagnosis of the disease. The country also participated in the regional project on strengthening the epidemio-surveillance of CBPP in West Africa. Zambia has benefited from two TCPs back to back on the control of CBPP in the western province. The most recent TCP is in conjunction with additional support from the UNHCR in constructing holding pens for refugee cattle and vaccinating them against anthrax, haemorrhagic septicaemia and CBPP. In addition, the FAO TCP facilitated the improvement in diagnostic capabilities for CBPP. Unfortunately, due to several logistic and technical factors, the disease could not be contained in the Western Province to the extent that it in 2002, the disease was detected in North-western Province. Serological surveillance capabilities established by the project facilitated the testing of cattle in North-western province by the complement fixation test (CFT) and the competitive enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) which showed that the disease was more widespread than thought. The disease was detected again in February 2003 in Kashima - Mufumbwe district close to the copper belt province. CBPP appears widespread in Zambia and threatens her immediate neighbours of Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. The current outbreak of CBPP in East Caprivi Province of Namibia is thought to have originated from south western Zambia. Government commitment of resources and streamlining of the veterinary services in Zambia, appear crucial to the containment of the disease and reduction of risk of transmission of the disease to neighbouring countries that are free of the disease.

Sustainability issues

Analysis of issues discussed and entry points for technical assistance by FAO clearly show that there is a wide range in the sustainable components of various programmes and project activities. What are clearly evident as missing are long term strategic plans and objectives that seek to address the control of CBPP at the end of FAO technical assistance. Technical capacity and sustainability in general, are affected by:


Technical assistance from FAO apart from the attributes previously described is meant to be catalytic in eliciting synergy with member countries and the donor community so that the needs of the present are sustained for the future in long term strategic plans for animal disease control. Therefore, one of the major outputs expected from this consultation is to evolve mechanisms that couple technical assistance to long-term strategic objectives and goals geared towards the control of CBPP in Africa.


1. Brundtland GH (1987): Our Common Future; Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford University Press.

2 FAO 2000:Http://

3 Lorenzon, S., Arzul, I., Peyraud, A., Hendrikx, F. & Thiaucourt, F., 2003. Molecular epidemiology of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia by multilocus sequence analysis of Mycoplasma mycoides subspecies mycoides biotype SC strains. Veterinary Microbiology, 93, 319-333.

4. Office International des Epizooties (

5. Windsor, R.S., 2000: The eradication of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia from South western Africa: A plan for action. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 916, 326-332.

[1] The OIE plans to change the animal disease list system to a single list in the near future.

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