The government has launched a Sh6.2 billion plan to eradicate Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a viral disease that affects sheep and goats.
Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai on Wednesday unveiled the National Strategy for the Control and Eradication of PPR 2017-2027, a highly contagious disease which is also affects some wildlife species.
Speaking during the event, the PS who also officially commissioned a team that will oversee the implementation of the strategy, said PPR is a threat to food security in the country and hindrance towards the realization of the 'Big Four' Agenda.
Food security is part of the big four agenda unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta after assuming office last year for his second and last term. Others are manufacturing, universal healthcare and affordable housing.
“The disease affects production of sheep and goats, animals which are key to the country’s economy. Kicking PPR out of the country will boost the production of the animals it affects for both the local and international markets,” said the PS.
PPR was first detected in Kenya in the year 2006 in Turkana County. Despite control measures instituted by the government such as vaccinations, the disease managed to spread to most of the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya.
Since the first outbreak, the illness has now become endemic with the disease currently showing lower mortality rates but still causing significant losses to livestock keepers in all parts of the country.
"The first outbreak of PPR had severe impact upon pastoralists. Many of them lost as much as 100 percent of their flocks, with the disease killing 1.2 million animals, whose estimated value was USD 23.6 million (Sh236 million)," said Kimtai.
" Considering that goats and sheep are the main source of income for many people, PPR is a threat to not only food security but the livelihoods of most pastoralists who are dependent on the animals, “ he added.
In 2009, Kenya was declared free from Rinderpest- a disease which caused widespread devastation in cattle in Africa in the last century. Clinically, PPR is similar to Rinderpest.
" With the implementation of this new strategy, we have a vision of winning the war against the disease completely by 2025, the same way we did with Rinderpest," said Mr Kimtai.
“The fight of the disease requires a multi-sectoral approach from both public and private players. My Department invites all stakeholders in the animal production industry to join hands in eliminating PPR from Kenya by 2027, "he added.
The Kenyan strategy is in line with the global, continental and the regional PPR strategies. It advocates for the progressive control and eradication of PPR by the year 2027.
Development partners supporting the campaign include the Food and Agriculture Organization, the European Union (EU), the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) among others.