The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) between the government of The Gambia and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on Emergency Control of Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in The Gambia was launched during an inception workshop held Wednesday at the Laico Atlantic Hotel in Banjul.
The project is designed for emergency interventions to control the CBPP outbreak and prevent its spread, while providing for a significant amount of capacity building to lay the foundation for long-term actions and sustainable CBPP control.
The ultimate objective and impact of this project is to contribute to safeguard the food security and livelihood of rural and pastoral households in The Gambia while the envisaged outcome is to contain the CBPP outbreak and minimise the rapid spread of the disease to other parts of the country.
The targeted beneficiaries of this emergency assistance project are cattle farmers countrywide who will receive CBPP vaccination for approximately 400, 000 heads of cattle. These interventions will be supported by extensive sensitisation on the disease with community-based and farmer organisations and relevant capacity building activities for sustainability of CBPP control in The Gambia among other interventions.
Officially launching the project, Solomon Owens, the minister of Agriculture, recalled that the CBPP resurged in The Gambia in August 2012 after a 41-year absence. He said following the laboratory confirmation of an outbreak of the disease in the Central River Region (CRR) and the subsequent follow-up assessment mission by the Crises Management Centre-Animal Health of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the government of The Gambia declared a National Animal Health Emergency in the country on November 2012.
He told the gathering that in order to effectively manage and coordinate the outbreak, his Ministry has set up a National Rapid Response team responsible for the overall national coordination
Minister Owens noted that the CBPP is a trans-boundary animal disease, adding that the collaboration between bordering countries is paramount in its control. He said the disease poses a threat to the economy, and that crop production will be affected in 2013 considering that most crop farmers employ cattle-based animal fraction in crop production where these drought cattle fall sick or die while their contribution to farmer productivity and overall crop production will also be grossly reduced to the detriment of the agricultural sector.
The Agric minister revealed that the free mass nationwide vaccination is targeting 400,000 heads of cattle in the country, saying the disease is affecting mostly cattle in the CRR and Upper River Region (URR).
Dr Babagana Ahmadu, the FAO representative in The Gambia, said since the outbreak of the disease in country, the Ministry of Agriculture and the FAO Country Office have taken immediate emergency measures to control the spread of the disease, which is considered the biggest threat to cattle production in sub-Saharan Africa. He added that government has suspended the movement of cattle between the regions of the country as a temporal measure.
Dr Ahmadu also disclosed that the FAO Country office has secured funding from the African Development Bank (ADB) to initiate the first phase of the vaccination campaign, which covers communities in CRR and URR, where the index case of the disease was found as a rapid response mechanism to contain the outbreak in the affected regions. He commended the government for the decision to re-establish the Veterinary Department, describing it as a step in the right direction.
Dr Kebba Daffeh, the deputy director of Animal Health and Production Services, lamented the fact that 4,000 cattle have died and more die daily in the affected areas
Dr William Amanfu, a consultant, gave an overview of the disease in the sub-region.