FAO in Tanzania

Tanzania commends FAO’s support in animal disease surveillance, data collection

Some of the experts testing the EMA-i app

The Government of Tanzania through the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MoLF) has appreciated the support offered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in boosting animal diseases surveillance and data collection efforts in the country.

MoLF’s Director of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr. Hezron Nonga, recently commended FAO during the opening of a special training on the rolling out of phase three of the Event Mobile Application (EMA-i) that facilitates timely information sharing among stakeholders, from livestock farmers to district and veterinary officers.

“For a country to have efficient and effective epidemio-surveillance system for animal diseases, all actors especially field officers must play their roles to ensure animal disease information is effectively collected based on the signs observed and reported timely,” he said.    

Dr. Nonga noted that for many years FAO has played a critical role in supporting MoLF in its efforts to improve animal diseases surveillance and data collection through capacity building and equipment donation.

“This has helped to equip our field officers a great deal on surveillance data collection and real time reporting using the EMA-i,” he added.

FAO’s support

Since 2016, FAO has been supporting the strengthening of the epidemiological surveillance capacity in Tanzania within the framework of the Supporting the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) program to address zoonotic disease and animal health in Africa through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The strategic intervention is also in line with steps taken to address the gap identified following an evaluation of the country’s capacity for epidemio-surveillance for animal diseases in June 2017 using Surveillance Evaluation Tool (SET).

In response, FAO in collaboration with MoLF piloted the use of EMA-i in 2017 to improve animal diseases surveillance data collection and real-time reporting in support of the national animal disease surveillance system. During the pilot phase, FAO trained thirteen EMA-i users from MoLF and Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA).

This was followed by another training of twenty-eight users from twenty districts across the country, TVLA and three zonal veterinary centers.

Furthermore, in 2018 FAO supported the scaling - up of the use of EMA-i to additional fifty districts, five zonal veterinary centers, three wildlife institutions and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) where a total of seventy four users were equipped with knowledge on how to use the application.

The Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) program Team Lead at FAO Tanzania, Fasina Folorunso, advised all those who have benefitted from the training to use the knowledge gained to improve the way they implement their work in the field.

“FAO will continue working with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to strengthen Tanzania’s epidemiological surveillance capacity including provision of support to widen coverage of the application use in the country Tanzania,” he said. .

Scaling up

According to him, based on the improvement observed in surveillance data collection and real-time reporting after the introduction of EMA-i in seventy districts in Tanzania, FAO in collaboration with MOLF conducted another phase of training in November 2019 with the aim to roll out EMA-i to additional twenty districts.

To support smooth implementation of the EMA-i, FAO supported MoLF with smart phones with internet connectivity that were provided to the trained field officers. The trainings included District Veterinary Officers, experts and officials from DVS office, IT experts, experts from TVLA and Zonal Veterinary Centres (ZVC).

The trainings facilitated the development of the EMA-i implementation roadmap with detailed timelines for upcoming activities including final customization of EMA-i for Tanzania and development of Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) templates.