The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has ended a two-day cross-border meeting in formulating a sub-regional approach to the control and eradication of the Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease that is affecting the livelihood of a very significant portion of the population’s food security, income generation, industry development and job creation.
PPR is a highly contagious disease of sheep and goats caused by a morbillivirus, closely related to rinderpest virus, one of the most damaging livestock diseases in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The meeting aimed to formulate a sub-regional strategy to engage the Mano River Union countries to take ownership of the Global Strategy for the Control and Eradication (GCES) of PPR and work in a harmonized and synchronized way in the fight against the disease.
The sustainable and efficient development of the small ruminant sector is highly threatened by this devastating “sheep and goat plague” that is already reported in 70 countries and need an urgent action taken now. It kills 30-70 percent of the flocks affected.
The meeting brought experts, scientists, directors of veterinary services, and heads of veterinary diagnostic laboratories from the four Mano River Union (MRU) countries of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, with the objective to ensure a continuous assessment and monitoring of the PPR situation and to join forces to implement the global strategy.
Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo, ECOWAS Representative to Liberia, said it is important for all member states of the Mano River Union (MRU) countries to formulate a regional approach in tandem with ECOWAS Agriculture Policy (ECOWAP) to facilitate effective control and eradication of PPR in region.
According to him, ECOWAS developed a strategy for the development and transformation of the livestock sector from 2010 to 2020.
“This strategy has four main components, including promotion of livestock meat and milk value chains, securing trans-boundary animal mobility and reducing trans-human conflict. Others are restructuring the animal production sector for effective operations and deals with creating a favorable environment for the development of livestock, meat and milk sector,” he said.
He said ECOWAS has also facilitated the restructuring of livestock into networks for effective operations. In addition, the ECOWAS commission has established MOUs with regional livestock producer organizations to provide needed linkages to livestock producers.
Marc Abdala, FAO Country Representative said Small ruminants, sheep and goats, represent a significant part of the world livestock sector in general, and particularly in the sub-region where they have an essential role in livelihood and food security; thus, they can play a significant and direct impact on the country’s economy and wellbeing of the population.
He said further that the PPR has a negative impact on food security and the livelihoods of poor farmers, the main keepers of sheep and goats in the country.
The meeting focused on the prevention and control of trans-boundary animal diseases (TAD) at border points to avoid the continuous infestation from one country to another.
“The method by which a country chooses to combat a disease might have impacts on small-scale/large scale producers. The cross border meeting in Liberia is geared towards controlling disease spill over to countries, which we consider is directly passed onto them in an effort to eliminate disease in the sub-region desiring to obtain regionally free disease status in the Mano River basin,” Abdala said.
He added that though many diseases can be controlled through good hygiene, and many animal diseases are controlled through either vaccination or a stamping-out policy, “A perfect control at various border points which include depopulation (slaughter and disposal of potentially infectious material) and quarantine of animals at these border points is also relevant to the eradication of the disease.”