The WAVE The Central and West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) program's bimonthly newsletter


Dear Friends,

It’s been a while! We’ve been quite late on sending out The WAVE, we admit. But these last months, we’ve been busy basking in thankfulness and getting ready for more WAVE and more impact.

First of all, we achieved an important milestone: in all the countries where the program is implemented, response plans to cassava viral diseases were drafted by value chain stakeholders. They were then endorsed by the governments through the Ministries of Agriculture or Scientific Research.

And then, there was WAVE 2. Yes WAVE 2! A few months ago, our donors, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Department For International Development (DFID) agreed to carry on the journey with WAVE for 4 more years.

This allows us to not only widen the scope of our work but also to expand to more countries. In the second phase, the program remains in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo. It is now also implemented in Cameroon, Gabon and Sierra Leone, bringing to ten the countries implementing the program, which now logically becomes the Central and West African Viral Epidemiology (WAVE) program for Food Security in Africa.

Phase 2 needed to be welcomed properly. Therefore, On November 6th, 2019 a launching ceremony in Libreville, Gabon welcomed some 400 guests from over 20 countries to celebrate WAVE 2. We will tell you all about it in the following pages of The WAVE.

It is clear to see, the last few months have been under the banner of growth. Friends, we are excited about what the future holds in store for phase 2 of the WAVE program.

Read on to find out why (we know you will also be excited).

Happy Reading!

Response plans to cassava viral diseases drafted in 10 Central and West African countries

In December 2018, government Ministers of Agriculture or Scientific Research from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Togo signed country response plans to cassava viral diseases.

The drafting of these response plans is rooted in the international conference in Cotonou, organized by WAVE in June 2018, and during which we alerted governments and public opinion to the urgent need for countries to take a proactive approach to the threat of cassava brown streak disease, which is inexorably spreading from central Africa to West Africa.

Thus, in 2018, in all WAVE member countries, national workshops to develop these action plans to fight cassava viral diseases were organized with the main actors in the value chain, including researchers, producers' associations and representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture and Higher Education and Scientific Research. In their framework, all plans include the creation of Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) in charge of activating emergency action plans in the event of a viral outbreak and similar to those set up to combat the Ebola virus.

The response plans are an important step in the fight for food security, which cannot be achieved without the fight against diseases that reduce production. Their implementation and the establishment of Emergency Operations Centres are now the new challenge in each of the 10 countries hosting the WAVE program.

WAVE Phase 2 launching ceremony

On November 6th, 2019, Libreville hosted the WAVE Phase 2 launching ceremony under the theme of “The power of togetherness to unleash agriculture productivity in central and west Africa”.

The event brought together about 400 participants including:

  • 7 government Ministers
  • Over 10 Members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Gabon (European Union, USA, Brazil, …)
  • WAVE Program donors (BMGF, DFID)

• 9 Heads of Regional and International institutions (AfDB, AGRA, CAMES, CORAF, FAO, ECCAS, IsDB, WAEMU, WHO …)

• 11 Heads of Institutions hosting the WAVE program

• 13 WAVE program Country Directors

• 7 WAVE program partner projects

  • Farmers’ cooperatives
  • Researchers
  • Gabonese and International press

The objectives of the ceremony were not only to present WAVE’s Phase 2 to stakeholders and officially launch its activities but also to build alliances, enhance collaboration and collective actions against root and tuber crops viral diseases in West and Central Africa.

The first part of the day was dedicated to the official ceremony with:

• A welcome address by Prof. Jacques François Mavoungou, WAVE Country Director in Gabon

• A presentation by Prof. Justin Pita, WAVE Executive Director

• A speech by Áine Mc Gowan, Partner Relationship and Liaison Officer on assignment at BMGF (DFID)

• A presentation by Dr. Katherine Kahn, WAVE Senior Program officer at BMGF

• An official WAVE program Phase 2 launching speech given by H.E Biendi Maganga Moussavou, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishery and Food Security of the Gabonese Republic

After the official launching ceremony, panel discussions took place in the afternoon.

The first panel was moderated by Prof. Abdourahamane Sangare, Deputy Director-General of the “Centre National de Recherche Agronomique” of Côte d’Ivoire and member of WAVE’s Advisory committee.

The regional institutions were on the spotlight to discuss the “types of collaboration that should be established with their institutions to boost sustainable agricultural productivity in Central and West Africa”.

The panelists were:

  • Forster Boateng, Regional Head (West Africa) of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
  • Prof. Bertrand Mbatchi, General Secretary of “Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l'Enseignement Supérieur” (CAMES)
  • Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD)

The second panel was dedicated to the theme “Pooling Our Resources to better Support Sustainable Agricultural Productivity in Central and West Africa. Moderated by Dr. Chiedozie Egesi, Project Manager at NextGen Cassava, the panel brought on stage:

  • Dr. Katherine Kahn, Senior Program Officer at BMGF
  • Áine Mc Gowan, Partner Relationship and Liaison Officer on assignment at BMGF, from DFID
  • Ali Eyeghe, Head of the Agriculture, Human and Social Development Division / Regional Office for the Development and Provision of Services in Central Africa at the African Development Bank (AfDB)
  • Ougfaly Badji (Operations Team Lead Food Security); Moussa Mahamane (Head of the Agriculture and Food Security Sector) and Sabiu Auwal (Agricultural Economist) at the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Regional hub of Abuja

The WAVE phase 2 launching ceremony received the entire support of the Gabonese government. Impressed by the WAVE program’s achievements and convening power that he witnessed during the Cotonou conference held in June 2018, the Gabonese Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishery and Food, gave an exceptional support to facilitate the organization of the ceremony. Therefore, on August 1st, 2019, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Gabon approved the hosting of the WAVE Phase 2 launching ceremony. This decision allowed the Minister to throw his full support behind the success of the event.

What they said

At the Launching Ceremony

“Multiform skills must crystallize around a common ideal, that of acting together for sustainable cassava production in Africa.”

Prof. Jacques François Mavoungou WAVE Country Director in Gabon


Prof. Justin S. Pita WAVE Executive Director

“Since 2015 WAVE has made a significant contribution...As we look now into this second phase of the WAVE initiative, DFID is proud to support the team.”

Áine Mc Gowan DFID's Representative

“Agricultural productivity growth is the most direct and efficient lever to reduce rural poverty.”

Dr. Kathy Kahn BMGF's Representative

“The WAVE program provides us with scientific knowledge combined with agriculture. It is also beneficial to the whole of Africa since it is a program that involves WAEMU countries and countries in the CEMAC zone”.

H.E Biendi Maganga-Moussavou Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security of Gabon Republic

During the panels

“For us, partnership is part of our DNA. When we are looking at the new challenges that are coming up in the agricultural sector, we need to forge more partnerships to be able to transform Africa’s Agriculture.”

Forster Boateng, Regional Head (West Africa), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

“We will allow the WAVE program to use CAMES’s technical Platform and communication channels to promote its work.”

Prof. Bertrand Mbatchi, General Secretary, Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l'Enseignement Supérieur (CAMES)

"AfDB’s commitment for Agriculture’s development is irreversible".
“Agriculture transformation is one of AfDB’s highest priorities”

Ali Eyeghe , Head of Division, Agriculture, Human and Social Development Division, Regional Office for the Development and Provision of Services in Central Africa, African Development Bank (AfDB)

“It is time for the institutions responsible for development, whether it is the AfDB, the IsDB or the World Bank, to come together. It is time to help countries identify the real problems facing producers.”

Ougfaly Badji (Operations Team Lead Food Security), Regional hub of Abuja , Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)

Feedback from Heads of institutions

“Côte d'Ivoire, institutionally, strongly and resolutely supports the WAVE program in Côte d'Ivoire and elsewhere.”

Prof. Pétronille Acray-Zengbe, Director General Research, Côte d'Ivoire

“As researchers, the WAVE program allows us to achieve one part of our mission: the commitment to serve the community.”

Prof. Kafui Kpegba, Second Vice President Université de Lomé/Togo

“On behalf of Njala University, let me use this opportunity to thank you once more for extending the WAVE opportunity to us and for making us a part of this truly transformative process. Kindly be assured therefore of our utmost institutional support to this all-important project.”

Dr. Joseph Shermann Kamara, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Njala University / Sierra Leone

“I reiterate my support and confidence in WAVE because I know that the project is in good hands and that the results will not disappoint us and will benefit our rural populations and our countries.”

Dr. Hamidou Traore, Director of INERA/ Burkina Faso

“We have all seen the results (of Phase 1 of the WAVE program) and we have noted that the concerns that have shaped the WAVE program address issues that are essential to our countries, to our societies. It is the role of Abomey Calavi University to support these initiatives... and we will continue to work together.”

Prof. Maxime Da Cruz, Chancellor of Université Abomey Calavi/ Benin

Hope for saving cassava from viral diseases and boosting food security in Sierra Leone

Cassava is the second most important food crop in Sierra Leone after rice. Its availability as a source of food, especially during the dry season when most crops are absent in the field, puts cassava in a unique position as a food security crop.

Productivity of the crop has been badly affected by several factors including the high prevalence and lack of awareness of cassava mosaic disease, resulting to yield as low as 7 t/ha in farmers’ fields. Sierra Leone finds itself lagging behind in the fight against the cassava mosaic disease with no system in place to handle emerging threats such as those posed by the cassava brown streak disease. Efforts by WAVE, the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) and Njala University (NU) in raising awareness on the incidence and severity of the cassava diseases has resulted in the signing of a national response plan for cassava viruses by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture as a first in mitigating the threats posed by cassava viruses in the face of climate changes which might exacerbate the issue.

With WAVE, Sierra Leone has been given the opportunity to join a community of people dedicated to solving Africa’s problem through fellow Africans who can attract the attention of governments and other stakeholders as manifested in the launching of WAVE phase 2 in Gabon.

As an Institution, we are excited to join the WAVE program in demonstrating the power of science and technology in transforming lives of poor smallholder farmers through:

1. Capacity building in terms of personnel and infrastructure to shift from visual diagnostic to modern research facilities using molecular diagnostics tools

2. Development of an effective and efficient surveillance system within an early warning system

3. Increased collaboration and corporation between the seed and phytosanitary, research and extension systems

4. Integrate health, education and food security concerns through the activation of the national response plan for cassava brown streak virus led by the Ministry of Agriculture

5. Ensure a viral disease-free cassava farming system to enhance productivity and value addition

6. Strengthen regional collaboration and experience sharing with other WAVE countries in the spirit of togetherness to trigger change.

To this process, Njala University is highly committed and grateful to belong to this transformative process that is sure to bring about change in the agricultural sector in Sierra Leone.

Contact us :


Communications and Public Relations Team:

Adja Aminata Ndiaye / adjaaminata.ndiaye@gmail.com

Ndeye Ndebane Sarr / nsarr1093@gmail.com

The WAVE program is funded by: