FAO project boosts capacity building in Southern African countries fighting small ruminant plague

05/08/2013 - 

A total population of 12 million sheep and goats in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia and 50 million in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are at great risk of  Peste des Petit Ruminants (PPR), a disease that attacks small ruminants.

FAO is currently partnering with the three countries to prevent further spread of the disease through the regional Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) of the Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa, based in Harare.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the Regional Inception Workshop Meeting that took place from 29 to 31 July 2013 in Mangochi, Malawi on “Capacity Building to Prevent PPR Introduction into Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia,” Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. James Munthali commended FAO for initiating and supporting the project to prevent the spread of the disease in the three countries.

The Minister expressed optimism for Malawi and other countries to control and eventually eradicate PPR with the help of  development partners such as FAO.

 “The Government of Malawi will also continue to work with our neighbouring countries in the region and not only, with FAO national and regional offices and other partners in order to improve and sustain the growth of livestock in the region," Munthali said.

Assistant FAO Representative Alick Nkhoma described PPR as a major risk to livestock development and assured the minister and delegates that FAO will continue to offer technical  support against any threats to food security.

“Any threat to national and regional food security should be dealt with,” said Nkhoma, adding the FAO has been involved in ensuring cross-border disease controls and will continue to live up to its mandate.

PPR, also referred to as Small Ruminant Plaque, was first spotted in the Ivory Coast in 1942 and confirmed in Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, while Sudan was hit by the disease in 1972. By 2008, it had spread further south to Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the United Republic of Tanzania.  

Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia - as countries at risk - sought FAO’s technical assistance to prevent its spread and invited  neighbouring infected countries –Tanzania, Angola and the DRC - to the meeting to share their experiences in dealing with the disease and their expertise on how to prevent and contain it from further spreading down south.

The TCP project is based on the collaboration of the three ministries together with FAO and will run for a two-year period, from 2013 to 2015.

The project encapsulates five outputs, namely: improve  knowledge and awareness; enhance capacity for rapid diagnosis and control of PPR; national and regional early warning and preparedness; provide reagents, vaccine bank and other diagnostic materials to SADC countries; conduct socio-economic studies and provide information to all stakeholders for decision-making and cross-border disease control mechanisms including operational backstopping.

At the end of the meeting delegates drafted recommendations, resolutions and a roadmap to ensure a common, efficient, and synergized approach to TCP implementation in the three countries. 

Submitted by: Mike Chipalasa
Country: Malawi