The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has officially handed over a model Animal Quarantine Centre (AQC) to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Animal Quarantine Center, located in Ganta, at the Liberian border with Guinea, is made possible with funding from the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) and USAID. The facility is used to identify, test for diseases and isolate livestock brought into Liberia from Guinea. The first of its kind in Liberia, the Center enhances the country’s ability for early detection, prevention, and treatment of animal diseases, which lead to loss of an estimated 20% animal production and transmission of zoonotic animal diseases to humans in Liberia.
At the handover ceremony in Ganta, Nimba County, the UNFAO Country Representative, Madam Mariatou Njie, said the Animal Quarantine Centre provides a strong veterinary service with a surveillance component that is hugely needed in the country. She added that the construction of the AQC was conceptualized and started under the Multi-Hazard Preparedness and Response Support for Liberia project, which was funded by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). In strong collaboration, the FAO and USAID will continue to work with the Government of Liberia through the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, and Internal Affairs to strengthen and broaden quarantine and border security systems. This will enable improved import regulations, inspections at the 12 terrestrial border crossings (with Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone) through the establishment of AQCs at Liberia points of entry to help protect, detect, and prevent the spread of zoonotic and import Transboundary animal diseases.
USAID Liberia Mission Director, Jim Wright, said the United States was proud to support the Center, which builds on the gains Liberia has made in strengthening its ability to detect and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. He added that ensuring the Centre is properly maintained and operated by a professional and adequately compensated staff, is essential to its long-term sustainability.
According to the Country Team Lead of the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FAO-ECTAD), Dr. Ibrahim Gashash Ahmed, the project was subsequently taken over and completed by FAO under the USAID funded ECTAD program. The AQC was constructed at the border between Liberia and Guinea in Ganta due to the large volume of transboundary trade and movement of animals and animal products between the two neighboring countries that occurs there. He added that the AQC will help to prevent the introduction of dangerous exotic diseases into the country through imported livestock products, which have the potential to cause severe disease outbreaks, with adverse socio-economic and human/animal health consequences.
The Center has two buildings, including a fully equipped Laboratory/Office building, and a two-bedroom residence for staff. It also has a six-compartment fenced lairage for sick and healthy animals and a crush for restraining and treating animals. A loading and unloading docks, a disinfectant bath, carcass pit and feed shed. The buildings have reliable electricity supply and safe running water provided by a borehole.
Acknowledging the handover of the AQC, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Robert Fargans expressed appreciation and delight to receive the Animal and Quarantine Center on behalf of the Government. Responding to the appeal for the government of Liberia to take ownership of the AQC, the Deputy Minister assured FAO and USAID that his Ministry will set up a structure to lead on ensuring that the Center is made operational and functional. He however, said the Ministry will engage further with FAO and USAID to provide support for training of staff that will be assigned to run the Center to ensure effective management.
The FAO and USAID are committed to continuing their strong collaboration and support for animal health and the overall development of the agricultural sector in Liberia.