Consultancy to assist in the development of a rinderpest eradication strategy in the West and East Nile ecosystems.
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Throughout most of the life of the OLS Livestock Programme, conventional wisdom held that rinderpest eradication from southern Sudan was not possible without peace. It was not until 1998, that the extent of the impact of the OLS Livestock Programme and the true potential of community-based vaccination using heat-stable vaccine was widely appreciated. As a result, the eradication of rinderpest from southern Sudan has not been a stated objective until relatively recently. There is now an emerging consensus among non-governmental organizations, international agencies and the cattle owners of southern Sudan that the OLS Livestock Programme has been highly successful in controlling rinderpest in the south Sudan. There is also a realisation that the time for institutionalised vaccination has now passed. Eradication, although not certain under the prevailing security conditions, is a realistic aspiration. The eradication phase of the programme should be implemented in a consultative manner to insure that organisations and communities involved continue to share in the ownership of the undertaking. Ownership of the eradication strategy by all partners is essential to its success. Dialogue is required between the stakeholders to design and adopt a disease surveillance strategy and identify time-bound vaccination targets. Information from livestock owners and organisations on the ground suggest that the cessation of vaccination and intensification of surveillance in areas West of the Nile is an appropriate and prudent next step. The situation East of the Nile is less clear. Historically, this area has not benefited from the same levels of activity as the West and communitybased infrastructure is much less developed. This has primarily resulted from problems of intermittent access and a consequent decision to focus resources West of the Nile as part of a phased programme. At the present time, the Sobat Basin is difficult to access for either vaccination or surveillance. At the time of writing, OLS has indefinitely suspended all NGO activities in large areas of the Sobat Basin. Further to the south, the largest communities in the region, the Murle and Toposa, have only recently been accessed to any significant degree. A shortage of information is not equivalent to the absence of disease. Building disease surveillance capacity, and conducting participatory disease searches should be the main priorities. Time-bound vaccination should continue within the Murle and surrounding communities, when and where it can be properly applied. In this manner, at the end of the 2001-02 dry season, sufficient data will be in hand to support an informed decision regarding the cessation of vaccination East of the Nile.