The Lusaka Training Centre has been in operation since early 1980 and has accumulated much expertise and experience in the delivery of training in tsetse and trypanosomiasis control, mainly to middle level operators. We have consciously attempted to modify the type of training offered over the years so as not to fall into a comfortable routine. Various means of improving the quality of training have been tried;
raising the mobility of the training group, so that distant sites can be visited;
mounting in-country training courses in e.g. The Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. Such courses also promote the flow of new ideas from the field to the Training Centre. An interesting example that comes to mind is the questionnaire technique on farming systems and village economies, livestock & tsetse, developed at ITC, The Gambia;
accepting some higher level training duties, such as the ISCTRC training seminar in October this year at Entebbe.
We have felt that the training has assisted in the fight against one of Africa's greatest problems, trypanosomiasis and has done so by getting down to the field level, where the struggle is going on, and where the battle will be won or lost.
Before we go further, we should declare what we are not. We are not a University or other academy; nor would grafting us on to a University be practicable, because of entry requirements, moderation of examinations, and all the other academic regulations essential to a university.
Essential features of the training offered
In summary, the training offered by the project has been designed:
How can these training aims be met
Here I wish to consider the matter of infrastructure and the institutional requirements for the present and future life of the Project.
We have different possible scenarios.
Ideally, perhaps, we could envisage purpose-built regional centres (conceived as a co-ordinated network) for training, not only in tsetse/trypanosomiasis techniques, but also in tick and tick borne disease control, protozoology and similar disciplines. These centres would be permanent centres. To focus our ideas, let us call the centres Field Studies Centres. Funding might come from governments within the Region, or from an NGO source. Perhaps there is another possibility which I will come to later.
What we have in reality is rather different. In Lusaka we occupy offices which function very well as classrooms and staff offices, but much less well as laboratories. Our funding has come in relatively short bursts, as is characteristic for projects depending on external donor support.
Miraculously, this funding has, in fact, continued flowing from 1980, to the present day, with only a 13-month gap. Very little could have been achieved without the support of UNDP and co-sponsors. There has been a very strong support on the technical side from research and field workers, who have made their expertise readily available to the project through the medium of lectures, demonstrations, field visits etc. Special mention in this respect must be made of the Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Branch in Harare, and its field station at Rekomeche.
The Zambia Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Branch has also been strongly supportive, and its various campaigns in the field, executed to a high standard, have been visited by our classes. The galvanising effect of the Regional Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Programme in especially these two countries, has to be acknowledged.
What we might have in the near future, in realistic terms, has now to be discussed. A Project Document has been drawn up, that envisages a network of 3 centres (in Zambia, Uganda, and Burkina Faso), the better to reach and carry training to different parts of Africa. Included will be training at the young graduate level, not only the middle level that has been the emphasis in the past. FAO is looking for funding for a 5-year programme along these lines.
Let us now look forward to the situation that might prevail at the termination of that 5-year programme. I would like to pick up again the concept of the Field Studies Network for Africa.
The Terms of Reference for such a Centre would be as follows:
To set up packaged workshops tailored to the needs of recipient countries, in such topics as:
Cartography, aerial photograph interpretation, GIS.
To deliver such workshops at field sites, on request from governments
To advise governments on training needs, by means of projections based on data compiled by the Centre, and after taking due note of technical advances in the relevant fields, and ongoing/pipeline projects
To identify qualified personnel able to deliver the required training; where expertise from outside Africa is used, to promote the transfer of training expertise to African personnel; and to enhance the capability of national training institutions thereby
To liaise with existing international institutions, on an equal partnership basis, so that training workshops can be dovetailed with the ongoing programmes of such institutions.
To produce manuals and other training material, of practical use to the countries covered by the programme
To promote, by means of short term study tours, dissemination of knowledge of training methods between African countries, and between disciplines.
I believe this network of centres to be of such potential importance that FAO should include it in its Regular Programme, perhaps through its Regional Office. The present structure of FAO is that it has its headquarters financed directly by its Regular Programme budget, and a field programme that is funded very largely by multi-bilateral or bilateral agencies. Under the new proposed arrangement, the Regional Office would have a much enhanced status and a very challenging task. FAO would have a much stronger presence in Africa. Data gathering for many disciplines would be much improved. External interest would be very high, that is certain, and funding would come readily to such centres once they were established, relieving FAO of much of the load.
It will be easy to criticise these ideas on the grounds that there is no precedent for Regular Programme funds to be used in this way. However, the Regional Office, and the country Representations, are steps along the same path. The Field Studies Programme could be regarded as a logical conclusion to these other forays, and as a justification for FAO's existing presence in the field. The idea could be tried out on a small scale at first, for instance in Uganda, within the time fame of the proposed 5-year Project (1994-9).
This forum is probably the ideal place in which to raise these ideas, and I commend them to your attention.