New Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation on Animal Health and Sanitary Measures between Kenya and Ethiopia along Common Border

The Standard Methods and Procedures in Animal Health (SMP-AH) Project organized a bilateral cross-border meeting for the Kenya-Ethiopia border from 18th to 21st May 2015 in Nanyuki, Kenya under the auspices of AU-IBAR and IGAD/ICPALD. Its main objective was to develop a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance, information exchange, disease control, and trade in livestock and livestock products. A total of 32 participants drawn from Ethiopia, Kenya, AU-IBAR, IGAD, FAO and Kenya Red Cross attended the meeting.

In his welcome remarks, on behalf of the Acting Director of the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD)-Dr Solomon Munyua, Dr Ameha Sebsibe noted that several cross-border activities have been conducted in the region but are not coordinated. He noted that IGAD and AU-IBAR work in partnership to implement SMP-AH activities tailored towards coordination and harmonization, and especially identifying common issues between countries and concretizing actions with bilateral agreements.

In his opening remarks, on behalf of the Director of African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) – Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy, Dr Joseph Magona noted the challenge that transboundary animal diseases continue to pose to livestock production and trade in the Greater Horn of Africa region. He further emphasized that the bilateral cross-border meeting for the Kenya-Ethiopia border was intended to operationalize action plans developed during the regional cross-border meetings through developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kenya and Ethiopia to allow them work together in cross-border areas. He requested each country to embrace the development of MoU to achieve stronger regional cooperation.

In his official opening, on behalf of the Director Veterinary Services of Kenya, Dr Michael Cheruiyot stated the need to focus on disease surveillance, control and trade in livestock and livestock products as major areas of collaboration during the development of the bilateral MoU between Kenya and Ethiopia. He emphasized the need for greater collaboration and stronger linkages between counties and the National Government in Kenya.

Dr Kabayo, a Regional Coordinator for the IGAD Drought Resilience Platform thanked organizers of the bilateral cross-border meeting. He noted the continued need for such meetings to allow grassroot implementation of important resolutions normally generated through high-level regional meetings. He highlighted the need to consider drought and its associated negative effects on livestock productivity and livelihoods of pastoral communities as an important issue that needed addressing in the cross-border areas. He observed that if appropriate regional drought resilience measures are put in place, drought occurrence should not always lead to famine among communities.

In his remarks, on behalf of the Chief Veterinary Officer of Ethiopia, Dr Hassan Chaka lauded the good relationship existing between Ethiopia and Kenya, manifested through recent and on-going cross-border, political and economic meetings and joint development projects. He called for joint interactions, wider consultations and collaborations during the meeting to achieve best results.

The two countries exchanged information relating to occurrence of transboundary animal diseases, ongoing vaccination campaigns and animal health human resource distribution in cross-border areas along the Kenya-Ethiopia border.

Kenya and Ethiopia adopted the conventional structure of an MoU outlining the various articles and the key content. The agreed areas of collaboration included the following: control of trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) through surveillance, vaccination, reporting, information sharing, livestock movement control, and awareness creation for communities; mapping of stock routes and natural resources (water and pasture), including control of invasive weeds; enforcement of regulations on veterinary drug use; facilitation of livestock trade through quality control and certification; access to livestock-related infrastructure including diagnostic laboratories, cold chain, and holding grounds (quarantines); joint promotion of livestock identification and traceability; cross-border networking among communities; and joint capacity building of stakeholders.

The MOU will be implemented in specific identified areas of the counties of Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana in the Republic of Kenya, and in identified areas of Somali, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Regional States of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The participants first debated the components of the agreement, and then followed a step-by-step process before reaching an agreement on the draft MoU.

The meeting further discussed the formation of the Cross-border Task Force for the Kenya-Ethiopia border, defined as a Technical Committee. The committee will advance issues and complete developing the MoU. It will be composed of a multidisciplinary technical team of officers from each of the countries, comprising up to 10 from both countries. Members of the multidisciplinary technical team shall be appointed by the Steering Committee. The key aspects of the ToR for the technical team included: drawing up the MOU implementation framework and strategic action plans; implementing activities in cross-border areas at county, regional and lowest administrative levels, and resource mobilization and sharing exchange visits.

The meeting agreed on processes that will lead to the finalization of the MOU, namely that IGAD will share the draft with member states by 5th June 2015; two respective Governments will ensure the MoU satisfies their internal processes at MS level by 5th August 2015; a validation meeting for the MoU will be held by 7th September 2015; the MoU will be concluded by 8th September 2015; and the Steering Committee will be launched by 8th September 2015.