FAO in Rwanda

Strengthening Rwanda’s emergency preparedness and management of animal disease outbreaks

The workshop equipped participants with the GEMP principles and tools of epidemiological investigation, enhance awareness of preparedness and response planning. ©FAO/Teopista Mutesi

In an emergency situations such as a disease outbreak, swift action and smooth coordination are crucial to detain the disease and minimize its negative impact. In order to equip Rwanda professionals, from human and animal health and academic institutions, on emergency preparedness, FAO provided the Good Emergency Management Practice (GEMP) training from 10-12 July 2019 with guidance on how to increase preparedness to disease outbreaks and decreasing the time needed to respond to a crisis.

With the financial aid from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), in collaboration with FAO Emergency Management Centre for Animal Health (EMC-AH), the Department of Veterinary Services – Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources and the Rwanda One Health Steering Committee, rolled out the training to enhance the capacity of One Health platform to prepare and respond to priority zoonotic disease emergencies.

Gathering participants from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, University of Rwanda, Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board, Ministry of Health as well as Rwanda Development Board (RDB), they covered the four phases of emergency management which are peacetime, alert, emergency and reconstruction.

New skills and more readiness 

The GEMP workshop brought professionals together to learn best practices and exchange experiences about dealing with animal health emergencies. It served as a hub of knowledge to help Rwanda assess its level of preparedness, including command structures, risk analysis methods, contingency planning, funding mechanisms, information system, and compensation plans, just to name a few.

During the evaluation at the end of the workshop, participants indicated that their capacity was strengthened for efficient and effective preparedness and response to animal health emergencies, including those in wildlife.

Fabrice Ndayisenga, Head of Department Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) undertook the training.

“As a country, in such a time like this, we should prioritize disease emergency even when there’s no case of emergency. We didn’t know that psychological support has to be offered to affected farmers. It is something crucial I’ve also learnt,” Fabrice said.

Julius Nziza, a project coordinator at USAID/PREDICT project that focuses on wildlife species said: “I didn’t know we have to do surveillance when there is no emergency, we were doing it during crisis management. Also, often times we have been focusing on biosafety and but neglecting biosecurity, yet it is equally important.”

For Professor Ntakirutimana from the University of Rwanda, the training introduced him to a new effective approach toward emergency management. “Most of the elements discussed in the training were new to me. I’ve learnt that during peacetime we have to prepare and be ready to address the emergency,” he said.  

FAO animal health specialist, Lionel Gbaguidi, emphasised that planning for emergency disease eradication and control actions enables the country to better prepare and respond in a timely manner when faced with emergencies.

During the workshop, After Action Review (AAR) was carried out on the control and prevention effort made during the 2018 Rift Valley Fever (RVF) outbreak in Rwanda. Participants reviewed and assessed any actions taken as part of the RVF response, in order to capitalize on best practices, identify areas and actions for improvement, and promote individual and collective learning.

Isidore Gafarasi Mapendo, Head of veterinary services at RAB pledged the commitment of all institutions part of the One Health platform, to apply skills and knowledge acquired through the project to achieve tangible results, while Aniceth Rucogoza of Rwanda Biomedical Centre pointed out team work as a key element during emergency management.

FAO Representative, Gualbert Gbehounou, while officiating the workshop reminded that the unprecedented outbreak of human and animal diseases due globalization, have had negative effects on food security, human and animal health thus hampering zero hunger efforts.

Near completion of the session, participants gained consensus on an action plan containing short, medium and long term actions to enhance Rwandan preparedness and response capabilities. 

Rwanda One Health platform

The Rwanda One Health platform is aimed to coordinate actions towards prevention, management and control of animal and human disease emergencies.



Teopista Mutesi | Communications Specialist  Email: [email protected] OR [email protected]