FAO is implementing a US$1 million project, funded by the Government of Italy, which focuses on improving food security in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting the progressive reduction of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomoses. African trypanosomoses are parasitic diseases of animals and humans alike. The animal form, called nagana, and the human form, called sleeping sickness, affect the health, livelihoods and development prospects of millions of people. Trypanosomoses also hinder the optimal utilization of some of the most fertile lands in sub-Saharan Africa Currently, the six countries that receive priority assistance from the project are: Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda in Eastern Africa, and Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali in Western Africa.
In Ethiopia, FAO is piloting innovative integrated packages to improve animal health and to boost animal production in tsetse infested areas. Livestock Protective Fences combined with improved animal feeding and more efficient husbandry practices will help to increase production and productivity, with positive impacts on food security and on the generation of cash income for the rural poor.
Capacity development and technical assistance to the affected countries are focused on:
- Provision of risk assessment methodologies and tools, such as digital mapping of tsetse and trypanosomoses. In this context, an Atlas of tsetse and animal trypanosomosis is being developed as a tool for evidence-based decision making.
- Identification of priority areas for interventions and piloting of innovative and affordable technologies to reduce the impact of tsetse and trypanosomosis and to support sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Project achievements already include the training of 120 staff from 13 trypanosomosis affected countries in data management, risk assessment and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for planning, execution and monitoring of field interventions. Also, advanced technical support was provided to a wide range of stakeholders at the international and national levels.
The project supports the development, piloting and dissemination of innovative technologies that increase the cost-effectiveness and impact of field interventions against trypanosomoses. Innovation is promoted both at the field level (e.g. Livestock Protective Fence) and at the level of planning, management and monitoring of field interventions. Emphasis is placed on Information Technology and GIS. Data harmonization, dissemination and sharing among affected countries is also promoted and facilitated, thus contributing to coherent and synergistic regional interventions.
FAO provides support to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners in their efforts to eliminate human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, also known as sleeping sickness). Joint WHO/FAO activities have led to the development of the Atlas of HAT, which enables the organizations to monitor the population at risk and its coverage by the health systems in affected countries. A WHO Expert Committee has recognized the Atlas of HAT as a crucial component for the control and elimination of HAT.
The project also believes in empowering African countries and institutions, aiming at building a core of qualified and committed staff in affected countries, who can guide the planning, implementation and monitoring of field interventions against trypanosomoses. To this end, FAO supports African counterparts in generating high-profile scientific publications, which ensure a high quality of field activities and maximize dissemination among, and up-take by, other affected countries.
Working in partnership
FAO delivers its assistance to affected countries in close collaboration with other international organizations mandated to tackle trypanosomoses in the African region. In particular, the Pan-African Tsetse and Trypanosomosis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC) of the African Union (AU) is receiving priority and direct assistance. Strong collaborations also link FAO activities to those of WHO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the framework of the Programme Against African Trypanosomosis (PAAT).
The project plans to scale up and out its achievements by disseminating the innovative technologies to a greater number of beneficiary countries and stakeholders. It also envisages consolidating its results by ensuring adequate follow-up on capacity development activities.