A new four-year (2019-2022) European Union-funded project known as Health of Ethiopian Animals for Rural Development (HEARD) has been launched in Ethiopia. The EUR15 million project, which is led by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), builds upon the experience and lessons learned from other animal health projects in the country. It has three main objectives:
- Strengthening the quality and delivery of public and private veterinary services through the creation of an enabling and rationalizing environment. This component of the project is implemented through three grants by the Somali, Amhara, and Oromia regional states. These grants are led by the respective regional livestock bureaus/agencies with the support of the MoA.
- Improving technical competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitude) and incentives for veterinary service providers to enable them to deliver better and rationalized services. This component is jointly implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Ethiopian Veterinary Association and has a strong focus on capacity development and facilitation of establishment of novel public-private partnerships business models for veterinary service delivery.
- Improving the food safety of primary animal origin products and achieving better control of zoonotic diseases. This component is led by the MoA and focuses on meat inspection and improved food safety along livestock value chains.
On 29 March 2019, the HEARD project inception workshop was held at the ILRI Addis Ababa campus to bring together all stakeholders in the Ethiopian veterinary service system to introduce the objectives and planned activities of HEARD and to elicit stakeholders’ expectations in a one-day consultation.
More than 50 representatives of various institutions attended the event. These included officials from the European Union, the Agricultural Transformation Agency, MoA, regional bureaus of agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the National Veterinary Institute, universities, non-governmental organizations involved in veterinary service delivery, professional associations, and the private sector.
Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Ethiopia State Minister for Livestock in the MoA, in his opening remarks reminded participants that about 60 million poultry and 5-6 million cattle are lost every year due to poor animal health and the high young stock mortality has a huge economic impact and becomes a trade barrier. Gebregziabher also stated that Ethiopia has15 universities providing veterinary education which helps to strengthen the control of animal disease and he sees a lot of potential for the HEARD project to contribute in capacity development for the student veterinarians. He concluded that the government of Ethiopia has high expectations from the HEARD project to strengthen the animal health sector.
Through the participatory program of the workshop, participants expressed immense expectations from the project. They said they hoped to see the veterinary service rationalization road map endorsed and implemented by the end of the project, more private practitioners engaged in providing quality services, a public sector that regulates and ensures the service delivered by the private sectors are up to standard, an integrated continuous professional development program in place, and the private and public sector experts competencies improved. The participants also emphasized the need to establish linkages between the five grants for the project to be successful and the need for research support to pilot-test alternative animal health service delivery modalities for the project to achieve the expected impact.