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Kenya takes ownership of rinderpest post-eradication awareness program


FAO Kenya in collaboration with Director of Veterinary Services (DVS) of Kenya organized a stakeholders’ workshop in Nairobi to discuss and endorse a proposed communication strategy, in addition to encouraging local ownership for rinderpest post-eradication. The workshop took place in Nairobi on 15th March 2017, drawing participants from pastoralist communities, farmers, DVS officials, FAO staff, livestock association representatives, field vets and other stakeholders.

The event was held with the goal of strengthening the roles of stakeholders’ implementation, identifying service providers and agreeing on recommendation for working groups to coordinate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to advance local ownership agenda.

FAO has been engaging with the Kenyan government in the implementation of the awareness raising program on rinderpest and related Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs) mainly using Communication for Development (ComDev) tools. The activity has already been rolled out through a needs assessment exercise conducted in September 2016 targeting livestock holders, government partners and other key stakeholders at national and selected counties level.  Based on the findings of the needs assessment, a communication strategy was developed to implement awareness based activities and an early response mechanism in case of rinderpest re-emergence.

During his opening speech, Dr Yilma Makonnen, Regional Manager for the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) representing FAO Kenya noted “Although Rinderpest was eradicated in 2011, the virus is still stored in a number of laboratories worldwide. Some of these laboratories are identified as low bio-containment facilities; posing a reintroduction risk for the virus into cattle grazing grounds around the labs and create possibilities of dissemination into wider areas.”

He went on to add that insufficient containment protocols are a combined result of lack of awareness about the rinderpest virus among livestock holders, veterinarians, policy makers and the community; contributing to a presence of a weak early reporting mechanism to detect a re-emergence.

Dr Murithi R. Mbabu, Head, Veterinary Public Health and Animal Production representing Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Kenya in his opening remarks called for joint effort by stakeholders saying, “No single person, no single nation can do this alone! We require collaboration internationally and nationally. Other countries can also learn from us and develop their own strategy.”

He added“I’m happy that we are thinking of a communication strategy because, the risk is out there. It was imperative to work with farmers, pastoralists, traders, vet personnel at counties, associations such as veterinarians’ and livestock marketing association of Kenya.” He went on to urge pastoralists and farmers to report to veterinary personnel when they recognize the signs.

A presentation on how the needs assessment informed the communications strategy was made to the participants including its basis on media usage analytics, inclusion of views from pastoralists and direct engagement by veterinarians in the process. Mobile phones, FM radio stations, television and print media were encouraged as powerful channels to disseminate timely messages and encourage feedback and discussions.

The group supported using local FM radio stations as major vehicles of awareness raising programs and recommended Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) as a strong partner to reach farmers. It moreover suggested strengthening the use of popular shows that already focus on agricultural issues.

Participants urged veterinarians to double efforts on expanding public awareness about the disease in their discussions with farmers and among themselves in addition to closely working with the Kenya Wildlife Service in surveillance exercises to ensure containment in the eventuality of the virus re-emergence.

Mosques and churches were also identified as important sources of information and were recommended as key channels for publicity on Rinderpest and TADs. The group suggested DVS to lead on monitoring due to existing structures.

The workshop was commended by participants for successfully engaging stakeholders and setting a roadmap for a transfer of ownership and responsibility to local communities. In addition to collecting crucial feedback, it recommended for the establishment of a working group, led by the government, FAO, KLPA, KLMC and the Kenya Wildlife Service to closely oversee and support the implementation of the Communication strategy.

The proposed communication strategy maps out what to do if there is a suspected case of rinderpest: isolate the affected animal and immediately report to the veterinary authorities.


Related information

Video: A deadly challenge: Keeping the world free from rinderpest

Website: Rinderpest

Related news: JAC recognizes FAO’s efforts on maintaining global freedom from Rinderpest during the 10th Meeting held in Paris

Poster: Rinderpest eradicated but not forgotten



Fitsum Tesfaye Habtemariam | Communication Coordinator | Fitsum.Habtemariam@fao.org

Samia Metwally | Senior Animal Health Officer (Virologist) | Samia.Metwally@fao.org