FAO supports Zimbabwe in becoming a provider of expertise on the control of a high impact Transboundary Animal Disease (AAT)

13/09/2019 - 

Mozambique – FAO is supporting Zimbabwe, a land-locked country, in becoming a South South Cooperation (SSC) provider of expertise to its neighboring countries in Southern Africa on the control of a high-impact Transboundary Animal Disease (TADs), the tsetse-transmitted African Animal Trypanosomosis, AAT. This disease is a major constraint for poor livestock keepers, but it also affects human beings as the so called ‘sleeping sickness’.

During the first week of September, the first SSC technical exchange activities took place in Maputo, Mozambique. An expert from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Division of Tsese Control Services, visited Mozambique’s National Directorate of Veterinary Services and the Eduardo Mondlane University.

The objective of the mission was to support Mozambique in developing a national Atlas of tsetse and AAT through SSC, sharing knowledge and methodologies developed by Zimbabwe. These activities are being organized under the service level agreement between FAO’s Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS) and FAO’s Resilience Programme Management Team (SP5), which is focused on increasing the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises, counting with technical support from FAO’s Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT).

Zimbabwe has a track record of effective control and progressive elimination of the disease, strong government commitment, and expertise in the development and application of innovative control tools. The country’s Division of Tsetse Control Services can rely on a total of 520 staff between its HQ, the capital Harare and field stations. The Division manages an annual budget of approximately 6 million US dollars. All these elements highlight Zimbabwe’s institutional effort in developing solutions and technologies for this high impact TADs control.

These features make Zimbabwe a “champion country” in AAT control, highly suited to sharing knowledge, methodologies and technologies as an SSC provider. According to Mr Learnmore Nyakupinda, an Entomologist/Glossinologist and expert in data management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) of Zimbabwe’s Division of Tsetse Control Services, “FAO support was key in technically equipping us and providing a unique opportunity to share acquired knowledge with our neighbours. Tsetse flies and AAT, as any other high-impact TADs, does not respect boundaries, and if we don’t work together with our neighbours in the fight against it, the gains made in controlling the disease can be lost. Concerted efforts are essential from all fronts to ensure we succeed in eradication of the vector and disease”.” 

The mission highlighted the importance of collaboration with Academia, and in particular Mozambique’s University Eduardo Mondlane. The expertise of the University could assist in building the capacity of the Veterinary services in the management of epidemiological data and disease risk mapping, contributing to the development of the atlas of tsetse and AAT.

At sub-regional level, the next planned SSC exchanges will be with Zimbabwe’s other neighbouring countries: Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. This example demonstrates that all countries, including small and land locked ones like Zimbabwe, have something to offer through SSC to other countries in need. All countries have the capacity to become SSC providers, and this is a key feature of SSC itself. Innovation is being produced every day at the Global South and more and more countries are engaging in sharing their development solutions with others. FAO is fully committed to facilitating these connections, especially through its dedicated Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS).

With a view to further strengthening FAO support to its member states in the Southern Africa sub-region, a project proposal on the control of two high-impact TADs (AAT and African swine fever) through SSTC was made by FAO and the main stake-holders in Southern Africa during a workshop organized by FAO under the mutual-learning approach and attended by the African Union (AU), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and some BRICS countries, such as Brazil and China. With this approach, the traditional provider/host country relationship is surpassed, and a SSTC model in which every actor actively shares their comparative advantage is adopted. In the future project, Zimbabwe will be both provider (for AAT) and host (for ASF) of SSC.

To know more about FAO’s support to the control of high-impact TADs through SSC, please click here.