LIPS-ZIM Project enhances disease surveillance and control in Mat South and Masvingo Provinces.
The €5 million European Union-funded Livestock Production Systems in Zimbabwe (LIPS-ZIM) project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has, in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe launched new Gwanda and refurbished Masvingo Provincial Veterinary laboratories to address threats posed by livestock diseases to productivity. The two labs will improve veterinary service delivery and disease surveillance in their respective provinces, particularly for tick-borne diseases that cause high cattle mortality.
LIPS-ZIM project coordinator, Sikhalazo Dube, emphasized that the project employs a comprehensive, sustainable approach to increased livestock productivity that includes both enhancing the adoption of climate-relevant technologies and researching the epidemiology of diseases and efficient control mechanisms.
“On the health, disease surveillance, and control side, the project has facilitated the renovation and purchase of equipment for the lab. The renovations were made possible with financial support from the European Union through ILRI, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the Faculty of Veterinary Science (FVSc), and the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS).
“In addition to the laboratory renovations, we are witnessing today, the project has facilitated training for veterinary epidemiologists and staff from animal research services on database management. These include 6 epidemiologists from the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), 2 male Glos sinologists from the Tsetse Unit, 2 staff members from the IT department, and 4 staff members from the DR&SS who underwent Database Management training by CIRAD, and 6 UZ students also received training.
“We appreciate the Government of Zimbabwe, our major stakeholder for providing guidance and assistance through the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS) during the renovations”, said Dube.
European Union Representative Ms. Sara Piccoli applauded the work done on refurbishing the laboratories, saying that such a development is a testament to the strong partnerships between the Government of Zimbabwe, the European Union, and research institutes.
She added that the LIPS-Zim project is unique and unusual because of its strong ’research’ component combined with the use of innovative approaches and models that aim at impacting livestock production while considering indigenous and local knowledge.
“It is why to implement this government-lead initiative, the University of Zimbabwe and well-established research institutes like the International Livestock Research Institute, the CIMMYT research center, and the CIRAD research institute, have been brought together into a unique collaborative partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe, through its Department of Research and Specialist Service (DR&SS), and the Department of Veterinary Services. I think the benefits of this collaborative, research-forward approach are already being felt by the community and clear to see here today”, said Ms Piccoli.
She added that the EU “expects to see concrete changes for farmers, who will benefit from the knowledge and the tools being given through the lab, to detect the most frequent diseases affecting their livestock earlier and also to effectively control them through the access of veterinary services”.
Delivering a keynote address at the launch of the Gwanda Provincial Veterinary Laboratory, on behalf of Minister of State for Matabeleland South Dr. Evelyn Ndlovu, Secretary for State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Mrs. Latiso Dlamini-Maseko expressed satisfaction with the progress made through the LIPS-ZIM project.
“The objectives of the LIPS-ZIM Project resonate with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which provides for the provision of laboratory diagnostics for confirmation of animal diseases and research on animal diseases. Refurbishment of the laboratory will improve access to animal disease sample testing, and decrease turnaround time for sample processing, thus improving transmission of information to farmers”.
Speaking at the launch of the Masvingo Provincial Veterinary Laboratory on behalf of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Secretary for State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Masvingo Dr Addmore Pazvakavambwa echoed Mrs. Dhlamini-Maseko’s sentiments adding that refurbishment of the postmortem areas will ensure a safe working environment for lab personnel.
“Government, through the Department of Vet services, commits to the maintenance of the refurbished postmortem areas and servicing of equipment. I would like to give assurance that the lab will be put to good use and will support various Presidential livestock schemes,” said Dr Pazvakavambwa.
Livestock rearing is one of the main economic activities in both Matabeleland South and Masvingo, alongside mining and citrus production due to semi–arid conditions in the provinces. However, since as far back as the 2000s animal diseases remain one of the biggest limitations to livestock production and trade in the country, with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Rabies, Newcastle, African swine fever, Anthrax, tick-borne diseases, and trypanosomiasis posing major threats to the national herd livestock sector’s sustainability.
During the 2022/2023 rainy season theileriosis also known as January Disease claimed an unusually high number of cattle, surpassing the records of preceding years, which forced the country to declare war against the disease.