AHEAD Update – April / May / June 2015

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

*Welcome to the second AHEAD Update of 2015. Please note that URL hotlinks for many of the organizations mentioned below can be found at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/links.html. If you would like to post an item in the next AHEAD Update, please just send it to us – thanks.


Is this the ‘Win-Win’ Solution We’ve Been Looking For?

Guidelines for Implementation of a Value Chain Approach to Management of Foot and Mouth Disease Risk for Beef Exporting Enterprises in Southern Africa

New AHEAD Publication Offers Potential Breakthrough for Pastoralist Market Access and for Transfrontier Conservation

It is clear from our past work over more than a decade in southern Africa's vast and complex transboundary landscapes that we need to find ways to accommodate both wildlife and livestock systems in an integrated manner that will benefit rural communities (e.g., foster functional multi-species systems, diversified livelihoods, and new approaches to market access). We hope this new publication will help operationalize alternative approaches to animal disease management and land-use planning, and thus help support both transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) and the control of transboundary animal diseases – without complete reliance on extensive veterinary fencing. New approaches to managing foot and mouth disease, with a focus on beef value chains, could indeed diminish the livestock sector's reliance on the disease control fencing that currently blocks the wildlife movements and migratory patterns that are essential for the long-term viability of the SADC TFCA vision.

In southern Africa the vast majority of cattle are located in areas not free of foot and mouth disease (FMD), leaving owners of these cattle with limited access to regional and international beef markets. This situation constrains investment in cattle production, thereby limiting rural development and helping to entrench rural
poverty in one of the least developed regions of the world.

For decades this situation has been accepted as irredeemable because the type of FMD prevalent in the region is maintained by wildlife from which it is technically impossible to eliminate the virus. Moreover, until recently, international trade rules and conventions were founded on the need for the locality of beef production to be free of FMD. Fortunately, this situation is changing and options include, among others, management of risk of FMD along a particular value chain. These new Guidelines have been developed to inform management of enterprises based on beef production of the nature of these changes and specifically how, step-by-step, the value chain approach can now be assessed and potentially exploited to broaden market access and thereby profitability.

This presents a new vista for beef production in many parts of southern Africa, and potentially beyond. To download the Guidelines for Implementation of a Value Chain Approach to Management of Foot and Mouth Disease Risk for Beef Exporting Enterprises in Southern Africa, click on the icon in the upper right hand corner at http://www.wcs-ahead.org/workinggrps_kaza.html. And let us know what you think!


*New report – Development of Export Opportunities for Beef Products from the Zambezi Region (2014), SATOTO Livestock Projects, Meat Board of Namibia and TAD Scientific. Technical Report to the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, 23pp. – This report summarizes the results of a four-year project implemented by the Meat Board of Namibia in collaboration with a wide range of partners. In locations like Namibia's Zambezi Region (ZR) where healthy wildlife populations – African buffalo particularly – maintain foot and mouth disease (FMD), the disease cannot be eradicated. On the other hand, export of animal commodities from cloven-hoofed animals to high value markets is difficult unless those commodities are derived from an area recognized as free from FMD, leaving local cattle owners with limited access to regional and international markets. The project therefore aimed to broaden export opportunities for beef products from the ZR by developing and piloting a value chain-based system to manage animal disease risks associated with the production of beef in an FMD-endemic area (while simultaneously addressing food safety risks). The sanitary risk management system developed was shown by formal quantitative risk assessment to achieve an appropriate level of protection (ALOP) related to FMD, meaning that beef products should be eligible for export anywhere in the world. The proposed system is also compatible with the location of the ZR, which lies at the heart of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), thereby facilitating co-existence of livestock production and wildlife conservation. To access the report, see:

*New paper – Drivers of Disease Emergence and Spread: Is Wildlife to Blame? (2014), Kock R. Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research, 81(2), doi: 10.4102/ojvr.v81i2.739 – The global focus on wildlife as a major contributor to emerging pathogens and infectious diseases (EIDs) in humans and domestic animals is not based on field, experimental or dedicated research, but mostly on limited surveys of literature, opinion and the assumption that biodiversity harbours pathogens. The perceived and direct impacts of wildlife, from being a reservoir of certain human and livestock pathogens and as a risk to health, are frequently overstated when compared to the global burden of disease statistics available from WHO, OIE and FAO. However organisms that evolve in wildlife species can and do spill-over into human landscapes and humans and domestic animal populations and, where these organisms adapt to surviving and spreading amongst livestock and humans, these emerging infections can have significant consequences. Drivers for the spill-over of pathogens or evolution of organisms from wildlife reservoirs to become pathogens of humans and domestic animals are varied but almost without exception poorly researched. The changing demographics, spatial distribution and movements, associated landscape modifications (especially agricultural) and behavioural changes involving human and domestic animal populations are probably the core drivers of the apparent increasing trend in emergence of new pathogens and infectious diseases over recent decades. To access the full paper, see http://www.ojvr.org/index.php/ojvr/article/view/739.

Again, if you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let us know– thanks.

"What is AHEAD?" Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa, the Wildlife Conservation Society, IUCN, and a range of partners tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent- and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programs addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and donors who see the intrinsic value of what WCS has called the “One World, One Health” approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, and human health and livelihoods. We convene stakeholders, help delineate conceptual frameworks to underpin planning, management and research, and provide technical support and resources for projects stakeholders identify as priorities. AHEAD recognizes the need to look at health and disease not in isolation but within a given region's environmental and socioeconomic context.

All the best,

Steve & Shirley