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News & features archive, 2010

FAO and other partners meet under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator’s office and the Egyptian Information Decision Support Center (IDSC) to study the impacts of highly pathogenic avian influenza on livelihood, food security and nutrition in Egypt

© FAO/A. Abdallah13 august 2010 - The first confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 (H5N1 HPAI) in Egypt were reported in early February 2006. To date, a total of 1,086 outbreaks have been reported in Egypt. Particularly in countries of eastern Asia and Egypt does this zoonotic disease remains detrimental to animal and human health, with significant impacts on economic progress, social stability and livelihoods.

In this context, and in clear recognition of the need to better understand the multidimensional impacts of avian influenza on individuals and societies, the UN System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) office organized a meeting for national and international development partners in Cairo, Egypt on 3 June 2010 titled “Meeting of Development Partners on the Impact of H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza on Livelihood, Food Security and Nutrition.”

The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MoALR), the Ministry of Health, the Information Decision Support Center (IDSC), the General Organization of Veterinary Services (GOVS) of the MoALR, officers from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Regional Coordinator for Avian and Pandemic Influenza (UNRC/UNSIC), the UN Resident Coordinator, the donor community, and NGOs.

In response to recurrent H5N1 HPAI outbreaks, the government of Egypt is using their fund allocations from donors to support small and medium enterprises working along the poultry market chain, to promote micro-financing activities for safe household poultry-raising, and the development of alternative income-generating activities. In the next five years, Egypt will receive foreign assistance to improve biosecurity measures in commercial farms, to design effective communication messages to induce specific behavioural changes in poultry-related sectors, and the facilitation of veterinary services delivery to producers.

Despite commendable achievements in certain areas, the dialogue revealed a series of needs that warrant further attention. These needs include (a) improving coordination at the national and governorate levels, among governmental entities and with development partners, (b) ensuring a broader inclusion of women and livelihood issues in disease control, and (c) identifying enablers or incentives for behaviour change in household-specific poultry production systems. The government of Egypt, along with its development partners, expressed their commitments to these issues.

© FAO/A. AbdallahIn addition to working with GOVS on structural and legislation issues, and disease surveillance and diagnosis, the FAO will continue to promote safe poultry production practices that are appropriate to the context of Egypt. Furthermore, it plans to undertake disease impact assessments given that it was collectively recognised that most available information is by now outdated. The FAO will continue working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the country.