FAO in Sierra Leone

FAO Boosts Sierra Leone’s Disease Surveillance and Risk Mapping Capacity for Animal Diseases and Zoonoses

Mr. Yembeh Koroma at the GIS training

Mr. Yembeh Koroma, is serving as a District Livestock Officer (DLO) Kailahun District since 2017. One of his main duties is to conduct surveillance for priority animal diseases and pests in his operational area and report to the headquarters of the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). , “Over the past years efficient data collection has often been a constraint due to lack of comprehensive data collection and reporting tools among many other challenges,” Yembeh said.

To address these numerous challenges faced by Mr Yembeh and other District Livestock Officers to monitor, collect and report priority animal diseases and zoonoses in Sierra Leone, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) portfolio, developed an Integrated Animal Disease Surveillance and Reporting System (IADSRS) in partnership with the MAF in March 2019.

The IADSRS system integrates Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) in the surveillance and reporting system. Epidemio-surveillance and laboratory tools including rumor register, zero reporting form, animal disease notification form, weekly and monthly reporting templates and laboratory sample collection, submission and results forms were developed and all end users trained on their use earlier on in the year.

FAO has also supported the establishment of an Epidemiology Unit at MAF headquarters to collate, interpret, analyze and disseminate animal health information as well as to coordinate epidemio-surveillance and risk assessment activities for priority animal diseases and zoonoses. Now, all the DLOs are capable to collect and report animal disease data weekly using the new tools to the Epidemiology Unit and disseminated to all relevant stakeholders via the weekly animal health bulletin, which summarizes animal health situation in Sierra Leone every week.

With this system in place, the country has the capacity to monitor and evaluate patterns and trends of animal diseases and zoonoses as well as institute animal disease prevention and control measures in a timely manner. Additional capacity is required to perform mapping of diseases, risk factors and risk assessment along the value chains using tools such as Geographical Information System (GIS) from data generated by the IADSRS.

Sierra Leone’s capacity on Disease and Risk factor mapping using Geographic Information System (GIS)

Risk mapping, spatial analysis for value chain studies and data visualization of animal disease outbreaks and related risk factors have become increasingly important in a surveillance system because they allow veterinary service personnel to understand and explain the dynamics and patterns of disease emergence or spread and increase the speed of response in the case of a disease outbreak. Despite these known benefits of GIS in the control and prevention of animal diseases, there was no veterinary services personnel in the country with the necessary training or capacity to perform this activity as identified by previous evaluations such as the WHO JEE, the OIE PVS and FAO SET tools.


As a continuation of strengthening the capacity already in place in the IADSRS, FAO in collaboration with MAF organized a five day training for twenty six (26) participants which included key national livestock and veterinary services staff, academic and laboratory personnel from Academia (Njala University and University of Makeni) and FAO staff on the use of GIS for data visualization, disease and risk factor mapping. The training was conducted from 27th to 31st May 2019 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was delivered by experts from FAO headquarters and Regional Office for Africa.

The USAID Global Health Security Advisor, Monica Dea, the Assistant FAO Representative for Programs, Mr. Joseph Brima and a representative of the Chief Veterinary Officer, Ms. Lydia Sesay all commended the training and it relevance to the country’s livestock sector and capacity building efforts to prevent, detect and respond to priority zoonotic diseases and other high impact diseases.

As an immediate result, the Epi Unit of the Livestock Division of the MAF is capable to produce weekly Epi bulletin using GIS tool for the animal disease outbreaks.



Keifa Jaward

Communications Consultant

[email protected]