FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO launches new virtual course to develop national capacities in fighting a transboundary animal disease

Developing national atlases of tsetse and African animal trypanosomosis


7 April 2021, Harare - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has launched a new online course on developing national atlases of tsetse fly and African animal trypanosomosis (AAT) to promote the control of high impact Transboundary Animal Diseases (TADs). Trypanosomosis is a blood-borne parasitic disease of cattle spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. A tsetse and AAT atlas is a national-level information system on the occurrence of the pest and disease in space and time. The course has been developed by the Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT), and it is hosted by the Virtual Learning Centre at the FAO sub-regional office for Southern Africa (SFS-VLC).

The online training is designed to build data management capacities in disease-endemic countries in Africa, and to spur the development of national-level, spatially-explicit information systems on tsetse and AAT. The course will run for six weeks from 7 April to 19 May 2021, and will train over 40 veterinary officials in charge of AAT from 15 affected countries.

“The capacity built through this training contributes to improving production and productivity of the livestock sector, leading to better food security and nutrition as well as reduced poverty. This is particularly important for us in Southern Africa, the only region on the continent with access to lucrative beef markets in the world,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa in his remarks of the opening webinar attended by key stakeholders.

“The SFS-VLC has been instrumental in filling training gaps created due to movement restrictions as part of preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The modular online course includes live sessions and video lectures, complemented by assignments, online forums and technical documentation. During the training, all participants will have the opportunity to interact, discuss the lessons learned, and learn from the experience of colleagues.

The AAT course in the framework of FAO South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

By applying the South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) model, experts from three countries of the Global South (Zimbabwe, Kenya and Sudan) will share their best practices on AAT control and empower other countries.

“This course is highly innovative, as it promotes SSTC as one of the important modalities to support countries in controlling high-impact transboundary animal diseases,” said Anping Ye, Director, FAO Division for South-South and Triangular Cooperation.

At the end of the course, the training programme participants will be able to plan, implement or contribute to the development of national tsetse and AAT atlases. In particular, participants will be able to identify eligible datasets, build structured data repositories, create epidemiological maps for decision-making and most of all share knowledge, experiences, know-how and technologies on AAT control through SSTC modalities.

“In most countries affected by AAT, large amounts of field data are collected on the geographic distribution of the disease and its tsetse vector, but this information is rarely harmonized and centralized. National atlases fill this gap, and pave the way for a more effective, evidence-based disease control. After the course, all training materials will remain accessible on the digital platform, and act as a repository of materials to further develop capacities in AAT-affected countries,” said Cecchi Giuliano, Environmental Engineer and African Trypanosomosis Expert.

The course was developed as a collaboration between FAO Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT); the European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) of FAO in partnership with the FAO Division for South-South and Triangular Cooperation.