Emergency vaccination against transboundary animal diseases in Lebanon

Emergency vaccination against transboundary animal diseases in Lebanon
Jun 2016

Context

The large influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon - an estimated 1.5 million people- poses a major challenge for the country. Many refugees arrive with a substantial number of unvaccinated livestock, increasing the risk of transboundary animal diseases (TADs) in their host country. The impact on agriculture is particularly worrying, as livestock is the main source of income and livelihoods for a large number of people in rural areas, especially for poor and vulnerable communities. Livestock keeping is the mainstay of Lebanon’s rural economy and has a significant impact on rural well-being and poverty alleviation, particularly in areas bordering Syria. This subsector generates significant household income through sales of live animals and/or dairy products. Many people, mainly youth and women, are involved in animal care and milk processing. In 2015, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) carried out a vaccination campaign in Lebanon to control the spread of TADs.

Challenge

With the intensification of the Syrian crisis, the regular delivery of animal health services in Syria has been significantly disrupted, leaving many animals without proper health care and vaccination. The crossing of borders by refugees with unvaccinated sheep, goats and cattle increases the number of dying, malnourished animals and of animals being sold at reduced market prices. Risks of outbreaks became a constant threat in Lebanon due to a limited disease surveillance and reporting, inadequate animal quarantine facilities and animal vaccination programmes. The Ministry of Agriculture reported, indeed, the first outbreak of Lumpy skin disease. In addition, Lebanese used to benefit from Syria’s seasonal pastures and generous feed subsidies but, like the free vaccines, this source has disappeared. As such, TADs, high feed prices and pressure on seasonal pastures and rangelands are forcing Lebanese farmers out of business.