Poultry, HPAI and FAO responses in Chad
| 24 March 2010 – The Republic of Chad is a landlocked country in central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. Due to a desert climate, Chad is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sandy Heart of Africa’.
Agricultural activities in the rural sector play a preponderant role in its national economy, which in 2008 totalled US$16.2 billion of gross domestic product (GDP). More specifically, crop-related agriculture accounted for 22 per cent of GDP, whereas livestock represented 18 per cent, bringing the total contribution to annual GDP at 40 per cent. At this level, Chad is considered an agriculture-based economy; through which significant portions of a population of 10 million derive their livelihoods. Poultry keeping is ubiquitous in Chad. Traditional backyard and small-scale farmers account for 90 per cent of poultry flocks, with women in charge of raising birds and investments. In rural settings, poultry stores wealth; when sold it can be converted into cash to cover other household expenses, and if kept, it can supplement nutrition as a healthy source of high-quality protein.
In February 2006, outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) were first reported in Nigeria, and rapidly spread to nine other African countries within a two year timeframe. Four of these countries neighbour Chad. It is believed that legal and illegal cross border trade of poultry commodities constitutes the main driver behind rapid disease transmission dynamics, with wild bird migration playing a minor role. Given this context, in March 2007, the European Commission and the Government of Chad signed an agreement to finance and implement a project aimed at early detection and rapid control measures against HPAI in Chad. A few months later in that same year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) came in as the specialized agency to execute this project and its related activities.
The main objective of the FAO project was to initiate measures aimed to prevent, detect and develop the capacity to control HPAI, as well as reinforce institutional capacities in surveillance of other zoonotic diseases, should they arise in Chad. The bulk of the tasks were carried by the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in collaboration with the FAO representation in Chad. Four of the main results obtained after project implementation can be summarised herewith as (1) purveyance of vehicles, equipments, diagnostic kits, and technical service materials for the Ministry of Livestock and Animal Resources, (2) capacity-building exercises with veterinary and public health service agents in central and field offices, (3) signature of twelve letters of agreement between FAO and pertinent units of participating Ministries as well as with independent research consultants and professional groups, and (4) empowerment of local authorities to move forward with a national action plan for 2010–2011 designed to build on the success so far attained, and capitalize on the experience, resources and training to improve early detection of influenza viruses, as well as other infectious animal diseases.
FAO continues to contribute to the national and regional efforts in Africa to control emerging infectious diseases and mitigate its impacts by promoting comprehensive and proactive approaches to disease risk management that combine interlocking elements such as foresight, prevention, impact mitigation, early detection, and swift and effective animal health responses.
Click here to read the original article in French, pages 24-25.