South-South and Triangular Cooperation

FAO promotes multi-stakeholder call for action on control of high-impact Trans-boundary Animal Diseases in Southern Africa

Participants at a multi-stakeholder workshop convened by FAO to call for South-South and Triangular Cooperation action on the control of high-impact Transboundary Animal Diseases in Southern Africa

13/06/2019 - 

From 4 to 6 June, FAO organized a workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, on the pressing issue of the control of high-impact transboundary animal diseases (TADs) in Southern Africa. Invitees and participants came from affected countries in Southern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), as well as from international organizations, such as the African Union (AU) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and some BRICS countries, such as Brazil and China.

TADs pose a serious threat to intra-regional and inter-regional trade, as well as to food and nutrition security within communities. Southern Africa, like other regions of the world, has not been spared from TADs. The recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) are still fresh in many people’s memories as it had devastating effects on food and nutrition as well as livelihoods for smallholder farmers and, in the case of HPAI, posed a threat to human health.

Considering these challenges, the workshop served as a platform to gather all the relevant stakeholders, including South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) partners. It provided a timely opportunity for the countries from the Global South to exchange their experiences, best practices, technologies and policies on the rising global issue of TADs control. The activity also served as a call for action, and it was supported by the FAO-China South-South Cooperation (SSC) Programme and the FAO Strategic Programme 5, which focus on increasing the resilience of livelihoods and threats to crises. 

SSTC was presented as an efficient and cost-effective way to engage countries on TADs control. As Southern Africa is affected by several high-impact TADs, which by definition do not respect national boundaries, the sub-region can greatly benefit from SSTC: neighboring countries sharing their best-practices to keep the TADs under control, and developing sub-regional programmes to stop disease spread. 

The main objective of the workshop was to draft a project proposal to tackle TADs control, with inputs from all relevant actors in the sub-region. The contribution from participants with a more technical background and from international development agencies was definitively an added value, as the key features that would make a project attractive for future SSTC resources partners could be incorporated.

Another innovative feature of this workshop was the mutual-learning approach. In this approach, the traditional provider/host country relationship is surpassed, and a SSTC model in which every actor actively shares their comparative advantage is adopted. In particular, Zimbabwe, one of the affected countries, will not only potentially benefit from a future project, but will also act as a SSTC provider by sharing their best-practices on the control of the tsetse flies, the vector for African animal trypanosomosis (AAT). On 6 June, a field visit was conducted to share experiences on the tsetse control and surveillance techniques developed and applied in Zimbabwe. The visit was quite useful as it was possible to demonstrate the disease’s impact on the livestock production, value-chains, food security and nutrition, and especially on smallholder farmer’s livelihoods. 

According to the Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa (SFS) and FAOR for Zimbabwe (a.i.), Mr Alain Onibon, who opened the event on 4 June, the initiative “was the first of its kind”, as it is was organized focusing on the beneficiaries. “Most local farmers are vulnerable people who bear the burden of animal diseases, and are often severely affected by transboundary disease outbreaks. In this context, improving animal health and increasing livestock production are crucial components to ensure food security and poverty reduction. This is one of the pillars of the development strategy supported by FAO, in particular through the Animal Production and Health Division (AGA) and the Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation (OSS).”

Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, Chief Director of Veterinary Services, in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement of Zimbabwe, highlighted the importance of this initiative being organized in SFS, as “bringing such discussion and planning fora physically close to the problem, and to those really affected, helps to understand the intricacies of the issues at hand within the context of social and other practical factors, and to produce improved solutions.”

After an extensive debate, the participants identified two major high impact diseases and drafted a concept note for their prevention and control: AAT and African Swine Fever (ASF).

As a follow-up to the workshop, the draft project document will be revised by FAO and submitted to new potential SSTC partners, including those that participated in the workshop, and in particular to the 2019 call for proposals for the China SSC Assistance Fund (CSSCAF).