FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO promotes Quantum Geographical Information System for animal disease prevention and control in ECOWAS region

It is the fifth batch of veterinary services staff of Economic Community of West African States trained on this open source software.

09 May 2022, Dakar – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to roll out the fifth training session of veterinary staff from ECOWAS member states on Geographical Information System (GIS) data visualization and risk analysis using Quantum GIS Tool (QGIS) open source software to prevent and control animal diseases. The training, organized with support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA),  is held in Dakar (Senegal) from 9 to 13 May 2022 for French-speaking countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroun, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo) and from 16 to 20 May 2022 for English-speaking countries (Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone).

Over the last decade, the application of GIS and spatial analysis in animal health has increased and become essential for designing innovative surveillance, enabling veterinary and public health services to understand and explain disease dynamics and patterns of occurrence and to accelerate response in the event of an animal disease emergency. However, many countries in Africa have little or no staff with the necessary training or capacity to use this tool. FAO is therefore providing this necessary support to strengthen the capacity of epidemiologists from the veterinary services of 15 ECOWAS member states and three Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) member states, including national expert epidemiologists from FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) country offices in West and Central Africa, on spatial analysis, data visualization of animal disease outbreaks and related risk factors using QGIS tool as well as on the basic steps of risk communication.

During the opening ceremony of the session for French-speaking countries, in representation of the FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, and FAO Representative in Senegal, Mr. Lionel Gbaguidi, Animal Production Health Officer, affirmed that “We are very proud of this experience because it involves a very good level of coordination with our partners and their constant reinforcement. Since it started, two years ago, the training has improved stock management, emergency management, investigation etc.” Mr. Hassane Adakal, on behalf of the ECOWAS’ Regional Animal Health Center (RAHC) stated that “ECOWAS RAHC is pleased to see that this training is continuing and that regional veterinary services are acquiring and updating their skills. These trained human resources are the future of the efficient control of animal diseases in the region”.

Representing the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions (CIRAD), Senior Epidemiologist, Dr. Cécile Squarzoni Diaw, affirmed that “We are really happy that the qualitative risk assessment and GIS mapping is used for health practices to prevent zoonoses. It is an easy to use method because it can be adapted to the context and to the country, it is not fixed”. Finally, on behalf of the Directorate of veterinary Services in Senegal, Dr. Mathioro Fall, thanked FAO and partners for the continued support and affirmed that this training will help to optimise regional surveillance systems.

ECOWAS takes over the organisation of the fifth QGIS Training Session

ECOWAS, supported by FAO ECTAD, in collaboration with the ECOWAS RAHC and CIRAD have organized this fifth training to strengthen capacities in disease risk mapping and spatial analysis using QGIS, including risk management and communication. This support is highly required in the region to better prevent, detect and control transboundary animal diseases, including priority zoonotic diseases.

FAO believes that the strengths of the GIS application in animal disease surveillance and monitoring are innumerable: real-time recording and reporting of digital information, disease forecasting, modelling of introduction and disease spread and, most importantly, planning animal disease control strategies.