Loading

The WAVE The Central and West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) quarterly newsletter

Dear friends,

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since our last newsletter. While Africa is facing a new wave of contamination due to the spread of COVID 19 variants, the fight for food and nutritional security in our continent is more relevant than ever. Governments measures to curb the spread of the virus have significantly impacted the food systems and livelihoods of many Africans. Africa's agriculture continues to be threatened by plant viruses whose spread is facilitated by our porous land borders and climate change.

It is a continuous battle for a prosperous Africa that WAVE has been leading for almost 6 years and in the last few months we have pursued our efforts to this end.

We are pleased to announce that WAVE has been established as a Regional Center of Excellence for Transboundary Plant Pathogens with the support of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). We inaugurated the new Center in Abidjan, on May 27 and 28, 2021 and hosted at the same time a high-level policy and technical dialogue on cassava viral diseases.

Then, WAVE’s 3rd annual meeting took place, still in Abidjan, in the presence of WAVE Country Directors, financial and technical partners and students of the Center.

In addition, we achieved an important milestone in our advocacy for a proactive Africa to address the threat of cassava viral diseases on food security, with the organization of workshops to present and update national response plans for the management of cassava viral diseases, established in 2018.

Finally, we are pursuing our actions for a better representation of women in scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa, by joining forces with the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) program to implement a project called WAVE Women Career Accelerator.

You guessed it dear friends, this 7th issue of The WAVE is full of exciting news. A wind of hope is blowing over African scientific research. Passionate about Africa, about soils, about science, we are devoted to offer a bright future to our farmers through a more inclusive and better-equipped scientific research to face the challenges of food and nutritional security in Africa.

Do not hesitate to visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram pages and share our publications.

Good reading!

WAVE becomes a Regional Center of Excellence for transboundary plant pathogens!

WAVE was established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a Regional Center of Excellence for transboundary plant pathogens on May 27, 2021.

This Regional Center of Excellence was inaugurated in the presence of 5 Ministers of West and Central African governments, representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO), the European Union, Representatives of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Directors of plant protection services of WAVE implementing countries, scientists from national agricultural research systems, African universities, the private sector, WAVE technical partners as well as the Ivorian and international press.

The WAVE Regional Center of Excellence for Transboundary Plant Pathogens is an important scientific and technical platform at the service of African farmers. The Center has been designed to respond effectively to transboundary plant viral diseases’ evolving threat on the continent’s food security. According to the FAO, these plant pathogens significantly affect agricultural productivity in Africa by causing annual yield losses of 40% of food crops.

With state-of-the-art laboratories, this regional center is an essential pillar in the fight against plant viral diseases. It will contribute to the reinforcement of WAVE's mandate, which is to ensure the surveillance, prevention and management of plant pathogenic diseases in Central and West Africa. It will also enable ECOWAS and regional authorities to provide farmers with appropriate means to protect their crops.

High level policy and technical dialogue on cassava viral diseases

Policy makers, donors, researchers and agricultural stakeholders gathered in Abidjan on May 27-28, 2021 for a high-level policy and technical dialogue on cassava viral diseases, co-organized by WAVE and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF).

The participants were gathered at the Pôle Scientifique et d'Innovation of Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny (UFHB), for 2 days, to discuss on ways to strengthen synergies between national and regional organizations in order to set up an efficient surveillance system and to implement response plans for the management of plant pathogens in West and Central Africa.

This unprecedented meeting began with a ministerial panel on the “Formulation of effective policies for pests and diseases surveillance and management” . It brought on stage the Ivorian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Gabonese Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, the Sierra Leonean Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, the Gabonese Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water resources. The panelists shared with the audience their governmental experiences in the field of plant health, particularly in the fight against transboundary phytopathogens. They unanimously emphasized that in the matter of plant health, our African states borders become almost non-existent. Consequently, strong alliances between African countries and a synergy between the agricultural field stakeholders (politicians, scientists and farmers), remain the keystone of food and nutritional security of our continent.

A second panel brought together scientific experts from African regional organizations (ECOWAS and ECCAS) as well as the heads of plant protection and phytosanitary control departments from Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon on the theme of “National, regional and international operationalization of disease response plans”.

What they said

"It is necessary to make data available to policy makers to enable them to make decisions on plant protection."

Mr. Mohamed ABAKAR, Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (ECCAS)

"For the sustainability of the laboratories, we ask the States to finance fellowship projects within the framework of bilateral cooperation for WAVE laboratories’ sustainability."

Dr. Benoît GNONLONFIN, SPS and Phytosanitary Expert (ECOWAS)

The 3rd and last panel of the dialogue’s first day, was on the theme " Sustainability of regional transboundary plant disease surveillance, monitoring and management platforms ". We welcomed on stage the representatives of the Biorisk Management Facility (BIMAF), the Regional Innovative Fruit Fly Management System in West Africa (SyRIMAO), the African Development Bank TAAT Project, WAVE Director of Research and Operations as well as Heads of Plant Protection and Phytosanitary Control of Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso.

What they said

"We need to work hand in hand, strengthen synergy between the different initiatives. The WAVE model is interesting in that it brings together a large number of stakeholders."

Dr. Ghislain TEPA-YOTTO, BIMAF Coordinator

"Projects come and go. If we want a regional system to work, there has to be a certain level of commitment from the countries in the region. If we want continuity, it is essential. (...) As African countries, we need to walk the talk! We talk, but at the end of the day, things don't move because we are not really committed.”

Dr. Chrysantus AKEM, TAAT Coordinator (AfDB)

On the Dialogue’s second day, about 50 experts gathered for more in-depth technical discussions leading to strategic recommendations to the different stakeholders in the cassava value chain in West and Central Africa:

Theme 1: National, regional and international operationalization of disease control action plans

The recommendations of the discussion group are as follows:

  • At the WAVE level

- Facilitate the mapping of actors and sensitize them;

- Facilitate the mobilization of resources;

- Facilitate the transfer of research results to the National Services in charge of Plant Protection for their dissemination;

- Extend WAVE's actions to other strategic crops.

  • At the ECOWAS / ECCAS / CORAF level

- Address a correspondence to the States in order to dedicate a budget line for the implementation of the monitoring and response plan against plant diseases and pests;

- Advocate for the mobilization of resources.

  • At the National Plant Protection Services (NPPS) level

- Draft a text for the establishment of the steering committee / task force ;

- Contribute to the implementation of the action plan through the mobilization of resources.

  • At the private sector level

- Contribute to the implementation of the action plan through resource mobilization.

Theme 2: Sustainability of regional transboundary plant disease surveillance, monitoring and management platforms

The recommendations of the discussion group are as follows:

  • The identification of ten regional phytosanitary platforms to control major diseases with particular emphasis on:

- Harmonization of legal texts and protocols,

- Improvement of structural capacities,

- Data collection and analysis,

- Sharing of experiences

- Establishment of surveillance systems

  • The Identification and mobilization of financial and technical partners in the fight against diseases (governments, ECOWAS, CEMAC, EU, CORAF...)
  • Sustainability plans for the platforms through:

- Strategic mobilization of funds;

- Support from different governments and strengthening of regional coordination;

- Increase public-private partnerships

Theme 3: Strategies and policies for transboundary plant disease management

The recommendations of the discussion group are the following:

  • At the ECCAS and ECOWAS level

- Advocate to the governments so as to ensure that plant health issues are given the same consideration as human health issues,

- States should respect the commitments made in Malabo on the percentages allocated to the agriculture budget, i.e. 10% of the national budget

  • At the CORAF and WAVE level

Take all measures to ensure that phytosanitary evaluations are carried out in accordance with the provisions established by the IPPC/FAO

  • At the country level (WAVE, NPPS and research institutes)

Strengthen collaboration and communication through a communication and information exchange plan in phytosanitary matters

Theme 4: Harmonization of regional transboundary regulations for plant disease management

The recommendations of the discussion group are as follows:

  • At CORAF level:

Conduct an inventory of national regulations in ECOWAS and ECCAS countries. This report will allow to highlight the gaps, the common points and the divergences of the different regulations.

  • At the ECOWAS and ECCAS level (within 5 years)

Develop a harmonized regulation for the two community spaces (ECOWAS, ECCAS)

  • The complementary measures recommended:

- Capacity building: working and human resources strengthening;

- Raising awareness of the value chain stakeholders: public opinion, policy makers, agents in charge of phytosanitary inspection, agents in charge of agricultural extension;

- Advocacy with politicians for the development and effective implementation of the regulations that will emerge.

Theme 5: WAVE Regional Center for Transboundary Plant Pathogens: The Role of Host Institutions

The recommendations of the discussion group are as follows:

  • Accountability of States and Institutions:

- For a strong foundation of the Hubs in Institutions, institutions need to help WAVE Hubs function properly and governments need to be more engaged;

- Establish an intervention account/reserve account for WAVE and its Hubs.

  • Training

- Increase the number of WAVE students, through scholarships for the best students offered by Ministries of Higher Education;

- Train more extension and agricultural service agents.

  • Communication about WAVE

- Communicate WAVE results at the government level;

- Develop a network through extension services.

  • ISO certification of all WAVE laboratories

WAVE 3rd Annual Meeting in Abidjan

WAVE’s third annual meeting was held from May 31 to June 03, 2021, at the Pôle Scientifique et d'Innovation of Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny. WAVE Country Directors, financial and technical partners as well as several students gathered for 4 days, in Abidjan (physically and virtually) for the annual review of WAVE activities and training sessions on scientific laboratory analysis methods and tools.

The WAVE teams reviewed the research and development activities carried out over the 2020 – 2021 period in the 13 WAVE implementing institutions. The technical partners attending virtually presented the progress of research activities conducted in collaboration with WAVE as well as the next actions to be carried out.

The annual meeting also presented an opportunity to review students’ research work from the 13 WAVE hubs. The students presented their research topics as well as updates on their work. They benefited from the guidance of all WAVE senior scientists for the continuation of their research activities. They were also trained on laboratory analysis methods and scientific tools updates.

Towards the operationalization of national response plans for the management of cassava viral diseases

Since 2018, WAVE has initiated a regional advocacy among African agricultural stakeholders to effectively fight against cassava mosaic disease (CMD), present in most African countries and on the need to be proactive regarding the rapid progression of cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) from East Africa to Central and West Africa. This extremely devastating disease affects cassava production with yield loss from 90 to 100%. The situation is even more urgent as CBSD has been detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The first step in WAVE's advocacy was the Cotonou international conference, organized in June 2018, where we alerted governments and public opinion on the urgency for African countries to proactively mitigate cassava brown streak disease, which is inexorably moving towards our region.

The immediate outcome of this international conference was the holding of national workshops for the establishment of cassava viral diseases response plans in 2018 in the 10 West and Central African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and Togo) in which WAVE is implemented. The main cassava value chain stakeholders gathered to develop national phytosanitary surveillance, early warning and response plans for disease emergencies. These plans provide for the establishment of Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) in case of a viral disease outbreak. In December 2018, these plans were signed by the Ministers of Agriculture or Higher Education and Scientific Research of the 10 countries mentioned above, demonstrating policymakers’ buy-in to WAVE's fight for sustainable agricultural productivity in Africa.

Today, the challenge is to operationalize these prevention and response plans. To this end, WAVE and its partners organized national workshops to present the plans to the stakeholders. Researchers, producers' associations, seed multipliers, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, through the plant protection and phytosanitary control services, and representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research met to update the plans, ensure their ownership by the stakeholders, while specifying the roles and responsibilities of each. Recommendations were made at the end of the workshops, for a concrete implementation of the monitoring and early warning systems provided for by the plans.

WAVE and AWARD join forces to empower African Women scientists

According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa has about 30% of women researchers. Significant disparities also exist between male and female researchers in the region, particularly in terms of senior management positions. Women represent only 8% of researchers in laboratories’ management positions. These percentages reveal the gap between male and female researchers on the continent.

To provide African women scientists with the most effective tools, WAVE and the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) program have joined forces to implement the WAVE Women Career Accelerator (WWCA) project. The project aims to strengthen the scientific, leadership and mentoring skills of African women scientists working within WAVE. It will consist of online training and mentoring sessions, tailored to the 16 students selected from the 13 WAVE hubs and mentored by 15 experienced researchers from the WAVE network or affiliated. The participants will be guided by the AWARD team of trainers. The project will enable the 16 recipients to acquire some scientific skills and to improve their leadership and project writing skills.

Contact us :

www.wave-center.org

Communications and Public Relations Team:

Adja Aminata Ndiaye / adja.ndiaye@wave-center.org

Ndeye Ndebane Sarr / ndeye.sarr@wave-center.org

WAVE is funded by: