FMD outbreak in Angola underlines importance of border control fence

By Deon Schlechter

FMD outbreak in Angola underlines importance of border control fence

Windhoek

Now, more than ever before, Namibia needs to address the crucially important issue of erecting an animal control fence between itself and Angola after yet another outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the Bondo Caila constituency in Angola prompted the suspension of cross-border movement of cattle from Bondo Caila.
The grazing land of Olupale in southern Angola, where many Namibian farmers graze their cattle, is part of Bondo Caila in the Cuando Cubango Province and stretches up to the Namibian-Angolan borderpost of Katwitwi in the Kavango West Region.
The suspension is in force until the Angolan DVS announces completion of its ongoing FMD vaccination campaign in the affected areas.
High-level discussions between the governments of Namibia and Angola have reached an advanced stage after a recent meeting of role-players in Swakopmund.  Namibia’s Cabinet has already approved N$51.3 million in the next two financial years to erect animal control fences between Namibia, Angola and also Botswana.

Electrification of part of the high-risk area of the veterinary cordon fence and the Namibia-Botswana international border fence, which commenced in 2013, is expected to be completed later this year. Government spent N$157 million last year to combat FMD in the northern communal areas (NCAs), and eventually had to fork out more than N$208 million to halt the feared animal disease. The lack of control fences has been the biggest bone of contention in Namibia’s 50-year battle against FMD. Cabinet earlier this year noted that erecting such fences is the only lasting solution to eradicate FMD. It is evident considerable cooperation on the suspension of cross-border movement of cattle is needed from Namibian farmers, while the police have also been tasked to patrol the border to monitor and prevent the uncontrolled cross-border movement of cattle.
The importance of animal control fences was once again underlined by the fact that last year’s two outbreaks of FMD in the NCAs both had their origin in cattle grazed in Angola – or cattle that came into contact with such cattle.
Government agrees that a permanent and lasting solution to control the outbreak of animal diseases in the NCAs is the erection of livestock fences between Namibia and Angola to control the movement of animals and allow for designated veterinary control points, where such animals can and must be allowed to move strictly under control.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa said after the erection of such control fences, the continuous vaccination of animals within the borders of Namibia should eventually ensure the eradication of animal diseases.
This will be done with the necessary consultations between the Namibian and Angolan authorities, as a memorandum of understanding regarding the situation was already signed two years ago.  During the 2015 outbreak, the movement of animals from south of the veterinary cordon fence to the NCAs was also been suspended, as well as movement of animals across the Namibian/Angolan border.
With N$25.8 million available in the 2015/16 budget for improvement of animal health and marketing in the NCAs, Mutorwa said the ministry would continue to implement the strategy for achieving international recognition for FMD-free and lung sickness-free status.
The implementation of such a strategy, Mutorwa noted, is aimed at creating conditions that will allow farmers in the NCAs to access local, regional and international markets for their animals and animal products and, therefore, uncontrolled movement of anmals between Angola and Namibia can not be allowed.
The essential elements of the plan, he says, involve strengthening veterinary services by bolstering staff capacity in terms of recruitment and skills development, development of surveillance and response guidelines, construction of veterinary infrastructure, procurement of equipment and vehicles, as well as community mobilisation and participation in veterinary activities.
“A major long-term component of the plan entails the eventual erection of a border fence between Namibia and Angola and relocation of livestock relying on grazing in Angola to identified grazing areas within Namibia,” Mutorwa notes.
He said the livestock identification and traceability system will continue in the NCAs and the entire population of cattle above six months of age is expected to be ear-tagged during this financial year.
Further, he revealed that an abattoir, cold storage and cooking facility will soon be set up in Zambezi Region.
Mutorwa said his ministry needs the total 2015/16 budget allocation of N$1.06 billion to effectively carry out some of the agricultural programmes considered critical for both national development and meeting the country’s regional and global commitments.
The ministry will implement four programmes, namely agriculture, water, forestry, as well as supervision and support services.



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