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FAO launched a campaign against peste des petits ruminants (PPR) to vaccinate more than 8 million head of sheep and goats across the Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian Arab Republic | FAO supports the global animal health campaign to eradicate peste des petits ruminants


Animals are a source of both a food, and a source of livelihood in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Animal health is critical for access to food, and to sustain vulnerable livestock herders’ means of earning a living. However, contagious diseases are a constant threat. Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is one current contagious transboundary disease that can quickly spread between animals, and cause deaths among sheep and goats, potentially threatening 330 million livestock keepers worldwide.

In response, FAO, with the support of the Russian Federation, the Department for International Development (DFID), and the Syria Humanitarian Fund, has launched a campaign against PPR to vaccinate more than 8 million head of sheep and goats across the Syrian Arab Republic. More than 180,000 herders resident in 13 governorates, including Ar-Raqqa and Idleb governorates, will be able to protect their livestock assets, and prevent possible spread of the disease.

“The PPR campaign is part of a global campaign to eradicate this disease,” said Mike Robson, FAO Representative in the Syrian Arab Republic. He continued that the campaign requires joined up efforts on an international, national and local level to vaccinate large numbers of animals in a short period to prevent the disease from spreading. “The campaign will help livestock keepers to protect their flocks, and ultimately will help them achieve Zero Hunger,” he stated.

Joint efforts to eradicate PPR by 2030

PPR is a contagious transboundary disease, which caused by a morbillivirus closely related to rinderpest virus, which affects goats, sheep, and some wild relatives of domesticated small ruminants, as well as camels. The disease can be widely spread among animals, not only on a local level, but it can reach other animals in neighbouring countries if it is not controlled. Affected animals suffer from high fever, discharges, pneumonia and diarrhea, and causes high rates of death in many cases.

FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have developed a strategy for control and eradication of PPR by 2030, which was endorsed by high-level authorities and Chief Veterinary Officers from 70 countries in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2015, to protect the poorest livestock keepers in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Two challenges facing the campaign

PPR vaccine doses are highly sensitive to temperature, and special measurements needed to ensure its effectiveness and efficiency on animals. An integrated cold chain is needed to carefully deliver more than 8 million doses to the villages. The imported vaccine and diluent from Jordan were stored in Damascus in a warehouse at 2 to 8° C. The vaccines later were transported by refrigerated trucks to the targeted governorates, and then in iceboxes, housed in mobile veterinary clinics, to the villages where vaccination process takes place.

A second challenge concerns recordkeeping, to ensure all susceptible animals are covered. This is tackled by vaccinating the animals in a very short time period. Veterinarians are coordinated using a WhatsApp group, and there will be follow up of individual farmers to confirm that they have been reached by the PPR vaccination team.