FAO Press Release 97/67

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Press Release 97/67


Rome, 17 November -- An international control programme against the Tsetse Fly is being launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the agency reported today.

According to FAO, about one third of Africa, or approximately nine million km2 are tsetse infested. Among humans the fly transmits sleeping sickness, with over 300,000 cases a year being recorded in Central Africa. The number of people affected, many of whom suffer from fever and will eventually die, may be approaching epidemic proportions last seen in the 1930s, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In animals the bite of an infected tsetse fly causes trypanosomiasis, it leads to high levels of abortion, fever and weakness. The disease has grave consequences on food production, because fewer animals are available for draught power and to produce manure. In areas where the flies are numerous land cannot be used for cultivation.

It is estimated that around three million animals are dying of the disease every year, the direct losses to Africa’s cattle population alone amount to between $600 million to $ 1.2 billion annually.

“Where trypanosomiasis prevails the reduction in the ability to cultivate and grow crops may contribute significantly to food insecurity and rural poverty,” FAO noted.

According to FAO, in countries like Ethiopia crop production could be doubled if infested areas became tsetse-free. Control campaigns train farmers to use traps to catch and kill the insects and only small amounts of pesticides are involved.

FAO, WHO, the Organization of African Unity, the Joint Division of FAO/IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) will work together to combat the fly through the “Programme Against African Trypanosomiasis” (PAAT).

PAAT will co-ordinate international research, efforts of governments, investments of donors and activities of non-governmental organisations. FAO estimates that around $200 million are currently being spent annually by governments, farmers and researchers on tsetse control. PAAT aims at investing these funds more efficiently.

The European Union supports PAAT and plans to mount three large scale regional programmes for trypanosomiasis control in some 23 countries across East, West and Southern Africa. The UK offered $ 300,000 for FAO to develop a PAAT disease information system.

Member nations of FAO decided to launch the programme during the Organization’s governing Conference currently underway.

For more information please contact FAO’s Internet site:



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