The U.S. Army's 404th Civil Affairs Battalion veterinary cell team, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, was invited to attend the Third International Veterinary Education Conference at Haramaya University in Ethiopia, June 18-19, 2015.
The three-person team traveled to the fertile, green hillsides of eastern Ethiopia to learn about East African veterinary medical practices, improvement of animal production, productivity, and food health safety and security.
“The focus of this conference is the sustainability of livestock economies.” Capt. Jodi Collins, 404th CA BN veterinarian said. “Oftentimes, people forget the needs of the animals and how they relate to our needs. You can’t address helping the people without helping the livestock and animals we highly depend on. It’s crucial that we have plans in place to address those capabilities.”
The event, hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine, informed scholars, government officials and the business communities about the impact animal disease and climate change has had on East Africa; in addition to the important factors the animal production markets face.
Dr. Girma Amante, HU president, said sixty-five percent of Ethiopian’s livelihood depends upon the livestock.
“Livestock plays a crucial role in the socio-economic development of the farming community in particular and the country in general,” Amante said.
According to The Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, an international development organization specializing in designing sustainable, market-led agricultural initiatives, Ethiopia ranks in the top eight livestock-producing countries in the world.
“Our government has given special attention to fundamentally transform livestock development,” Abdulaziz Mohamed, Oromia Regional State vice president said. “In order to ensure food security, poverty alleviation and to export the renaissance journey of Ethiopia.”
The two-day conference further discussed animal health service delivery and input supply perspectives; along with the role of veterinary validation in promoting livestock and products of animal origin marketing for food security and sustainable economic growth.
The conference presented a number of challenges and opportunities the livestock sector faces, explained Dr. Yitagele Terefe, HU College of Veterinary Medicine president.
“The evaluation of livestock health provides guidance for policy and decision makers, to assure food security and for sustainable economic development.”
At the conference key leaders and university professors from East Africa taught the veterinarian team about their ability to vaccinate against and respond to foreign animal diseases.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Patricia Rasmussen, 404th CA BN veterinarian said the conference went well.
“They were really welcoming, our team learned a lot about their capabilities as veterinarians, as a nation, problems they’ve encountered and ways they’ve overcome those issues. It was very enlightening and refreshing.”
The CA team shared a presentation on maximizing and leveraging available veterinary assets in resource-limited regions to increase capacity.
“Their presentation had good information,” Hailemariam Kefyalew, HU College of Veterinary Medicine assistant professor said. “We will see how the U.S. military can work with our communities.”
More than twenty East African scholars shared their findings and held discussion forums.
“I strongly believe that your presence here speaks volumes about your interest and commitment,” Amante said to the attendees, “To promote and improve the livestock sector through inputs, services, education and research.”
Collins said she learned a lot collaborating with our partner nations.
“The conference was great, we look forward to meeting with other veterinarians from other parts of the Horn of Africa and building on the relationships we developed here.”