Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a stakeholders workshop to discuss and validate communications strategy for the Global Rinderpest Post-Eradication Security: Phase II project in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, FAO has been coordinating with stakeholders in the design and implementation of the awareness raising program on rinderpest and other transboundary animal diseases, since June 2020. Under the FAO communications for development model, a communication needs assessment was conducted in Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit and Azad Jammu & Kashmir using a participatory approach involving the livestock keepers, dairy farmers and community elders.
The study provides insight on livestock keepers’ knowledge about rinderpest, their communication systems, and how they liaison with veterinarians in the event of an emergency. Based on the outcome of the needs assessment, a communication strategy was developed to launch awareness raising to minimize the risk of re-emergence of rinderpest.
“It’s very important to prevent any resurgence of rinderpest virus in Pakistan and anywhere else in the world for animal health and food security” said Dr Muhammad Akram, Deputy Animal Husbandry Commissioner. It is a timely step for working together on this important project, which brings more expertise and knowledge to the country in designing communication and awareness campaign for rinderpest and other transboundary animal diseases.
“Pakistan suffered from frequent outbreaks of rinderpest, which caused a huge economic loss to the livestock sector and disturbed the country’s economy.The awareness raising communication campaign targeting the livestock keepers, academia and animal health workers will limit the risk and impact of the virus re-emerging and impacting livelihoods, trade, and food security. Rinderpest was globally eradicated in 2011 while Pakistan was certified as free from rinderpest in 2007. However, creating awareness among stakeholders is critical for avoiding the risk of re-emergence and better preparedness. The project strives to maintain global freedom from rinderpest with continued advocacy for livestock keepers, and academia in Pakistan.” said Ms. Rebekah Bell, FAO Representative in Pakistan, during her opening speech.
Dr Samia Metwally, Senior Animal Health Officer, FAO-HQ, added “rinderpest has been eradicated, and attention is still being given to ensure that its eradication is sustainable for the future generations to not see this dreadful disease again. Stakeholder cooperation is pivotal to safeguard freedom through communication and awareness-raising and this workshop is an opportunity to discuss the communication campaign in the country, its dissemination network and monitoring & evaluation of the communication intervention on its effectiveness.”
The importance of engaging stakeholders and setting a roadmap for a transfer of ownership and responsibilities to the government to continue the awareness campaign was emphasized. It was recommended that the relevant authorities’ heads will nominate members of the stakeholders working group from representatives from the government, livestock keepers, and academia to oversee the development of communication materials, its dissemination, monitoring and evaluation. Participants were thanked for their active participation and deliberation with the commitment to keep the transboundary animal diseases in control in Pakistan.
The workshop saw participation from all the stakeholders, including the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, provincial livestock departments, Academia, Epidemiologist, and representatives from livestock associations.