FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO, IGAD and AU IBAR to enhance control and eradication of Peste des Petits Ruminants in Eastern Africa

The 8th Regional PPR Control & Eradication Coordination Committee (CECC) Meeting was convened to improve coordination in control and eradication of PPR in the subregion.

Consistent PPR control was essential for its eradication to be achieved by 2030. Photo credit - ©FAO/Luis Tato

30 October 2020, Addis Ababa –The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for Eastern Africa, the IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) as well as the African Union –InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) called for continuous funding and improved coordination to control Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) in Eastern Africa, at a virtual meeting, held on 21 October 2020.

The “8th Regional PPR Control & Eradication Coordination Committee (CECC) Virtual Meeting” aimed at updating all stakeholders on ongoing and planned efforts towards PPR control in Eastern Africa for better coordination to achieve the eradication of the disease by 2030.

 PPR is a viral disease primarily affecting goats and sheep, but can also cause fatal disease in camel and asymptomatic infection in cattle. PPR is a major constraint to the productivity of small ruminants. Socio-economic studies found that PPR infection caused shifts in food consumption, food and income sources and resulted in otherwise well-off households slipping into poverty, while poor households becoming destitute.

 Officially opening the meeting, Solomon Munyua, Director of IGAD ICPALD, emphasized on the rich livestock resources of IGAD member states and the importance to control PPR and other transboundary animal diseases, especially trade relevant diseases due to the significant livestock export market potential.

 Speaking on behalf of the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Ricarda Mondry, Livestock Officer of the FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa, underlined the importance of small ruminants in Eastern Africa, which serve as a major source of livelihood for millions of agro-pastoralists and pastoralists; and, as they require a much smaller investment and reproduce more rapidly, are relied upon especially by women, youth and poor households. 

 She further noted that small ruminants were an important means to rebuild herds after environmental and political shocks, and played a critical role in achieving food and nutrition security as well as contributing to overall poverty reduction.   Mondry also pointed out that consistent PPR control was essential for its eradication to be achieved by 2030. As the spread of PPR has been slowing down and less or smaller outbreaks occur, having a smaller economic impact, further steps and related costs to prevent its spread are unfortunately sometimes questioned. However, continuous support must be given to achieve success.

 Obadiah Njagi, Chief Veterinary Officer of Kenya, observed, in his opening remarks, that even though some countries made significant progress towards PPR control, that due to PPR being a trans-boundary disease, its control and eventual eradication required a phased and regionally coordinated approach to avoid reintroduction into free zones and to achieve eradication. 

 Efficient national veterinary services, as well as animal health networks, laboratory and epidemiology networks and transparent and timely sharing of information, are essential. The control of other priority small ruminant diseases together with PPR in view to increasing the impact of the control efforts is also important. Active and passive surveillance, prevention and control actions need to be well-coordinated within the region, as no country alone can achieve sustainable eradication. 

 IGAD ICPALD, AU-IBAR, the FAO/ OIE (the World Organization for Animal Health)-Global PPR Secretariat, the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre (AU-PANVAC) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) each gave updates on the implementation of the PPR Control and Eradication programme and its coordination mechanisms, partnerships, resource mobilization, and the extensive support given to Eastern Africa, FAO and OIE presented the ongoing revision of the Monitoring and Assessment Tool (PMAT). 

During the meeting, Chief Veterinary Officers or their representatives from Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, provided updates on the implementation status of their national PPR control and eradication strategies, activities planned in future and the effect the COVID pandemic (and desert locust) had on implementation. The veterinary officers were able to discuss the constraints they faced and clarify epidemiological data available, outbreaks suspected and confirmed, control measures taken and the current disease situation, particularly in cross border areas. Most countries have moved from mass vaccination to risk-based targeted vaccination, and even though much process has been made during the last year, more epidemiological data on PPR in the region is still required.

The dialogue came up with key recommendations, including encouraging member states to include PPR control in national budgets and mainstream into country resource mobilization from donor communities as a national priority, and to carry out advocacy to policymakers on national and sub-national levels. Furthermore, member states and development partners (AU-IBAR, IGAD, FAO, OIE) were requested to undertake resource mobilization to support cross border programmes for PPR control. 

The meeting also agreed that additional bilateral and multilateral cross border MOUs to harmonize regional efforts of PPR surveillance, vaccination and reporting, should be supported, and better public awareness all along the small ruminant value chain created.

Member countries recognized the quality technical assistance provided by FAO and requested the Organization to build further capacity on risk analysis, the Monitoring and Assessment Tool (PMAT) and the Post-Vaccination Evaluation tool.