24 October 2012 - FAO recently organized two workshops in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to work with development partners in East Africa to map out strategies to curb the economic damage caused by the deadly peste des petits ruminants (PPR), also known as ‘goat plague.’ The meeting put in motion the first steps necessary to create a regional initiative in the Horn of Africa that would prevent and control the spread of PPR across borders.
Small ruminant farming is key to poverty alleviation in areas where sheep and goats play an important role in food security and income generation. Though there is a lack of complete data on PPR’s economic impact, in Kenya, for example, direct and indirect losses from PPR were recently estimated at nearly $12 million per year. The financial damage includes lost income from milk, meat, the cost of disease control measures and lost trade. For the world’s one billion poor farmers – most in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia – PPR is devastating and a direct cause of persistent poverty.
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is extremely virulent and is particularly devastating for vulnerable smallholder farming families. PPR can have mortality rates often above 80 percent, killing the few animals a family depends on for their basic food needs and daily income from milk and meat. Already present across a wide swath of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the virus continues to spread to new countries and threaten an increasing number of livestock keepers and small ruminant populations.
Attendees of the first workshop included Chief Veterinary Officers of several Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member countries from the Horn of Africa, representatives from the African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the IGAD Centre for Pastoralism and Livestock Development, delegates from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and other international organizations. FAO livestock and animal health officers from various countries and experts from the joint FAO/IAEA joint programme on nuclear technicques in food and agriculture were also present delegates from numerous international organizations and FAO livestock and animal health officers from various countries. FAO worked with participants to:
- ensure a common understanding among experts based in East Africa of the epidemiological situation related to PPR, the socio-economic impact of diseases affecting small ruminants and the development of new control tools;
- broker agreement on the methodology and key elements for the development of a sub-regional strategy in the Horn of Africa to be aligned with the global, regional and sub-regional mandates;
- identify and agree on mechanisms for regional coordination of partnerships for the control of PPR and other small ruminant diseases;
- identify the main knowledge gaps related to the implementation of the strategy.
The meeting was organized under the auspices of the EU-funded called ‘Supporting the Horn of Africa’s Resilience’ (SHARE) initiative, which committed € 11.5 million for regional interventions, including for animal health programmes. SHARE represents a unique opportunity for assisting countries in implementing, in a coordinated manner, the PPR strategy that has been developed for the Horn of Africa.
Participants in a second internal FAO workshop afterward worked together to develop a follow-up roadmap for the joint PPR strategy, a resource mobilization plan and a communication plan to combat the disease. Attendees committed to an aggressive framework of collaboration in order to produce a consolidated FAO position paper on PPR by the end of October 2012, regional/sub regional strategies by the end of 2012 and a global strategic framework by mid-2013, which will all be done in collaboration with the OIE as FAO’s partner in the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADS).Partners agreed the strategy should be developed using a results based approach, adhere to the Country Programming Framework and be integrated within a regional strategy. Workshop attendees also concluded that FAO should urgently raise awareness of PPR and its enormous impacts on livelihoods and food security.