Zimbabwe is set to benefit from a US$6.9 million animal health project launched recently to combat animal trypanosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by biting flies including tsetse that continue to cause grave economic losses for smallholder farmers in Africa.
CIRAD, a French agricultural research and cooperation organization announced that it will coordinate a four-year COMBAT project funded by the European Union‘s H2020 programme to contain the parasitic diseases that now risk being introduced into Europe due to globalization and environmental changes.
The project will aim to improve the knowledge base on animal parasitic diseases, develop innovative control tools, strengthen surveillance, diagnosis and control networks by setting up harmonised epidemiological information systems and national and regional control strategies.
CIRAD said it would also move to strengthen the capacity of African livestock farmers and veterinary services to fight the disease, while raising awareness among policy makers concerned with food security and poverty reduction.
“The strength of this project lies in the fact that it brings together in the consortium both European and African research institutions, as well as the veterinary authorities of target countries. The project also has the support of international organisations, first and foremost the FAO, but also the African Union, the OIE, the WHO and the IAEA, which means that it has a major impact on all the stakeholders,” said Alain Boulangé, the project coordinator for CIRAD.
The project will be implemented in 13 endemic countries in Africa with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The 13 endemic countries include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Chad, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon.
“The direct and indirect impacts of tsetse and trypanosomiasis are estimated at an annual loss of $4,5 billion in Africa. The losses are manifested due to impacts on livestock productivity, on migration and human settlement, on livestock management, on crop production, land use, ecosystem structure and function and human welfare.”