The Southern Tsetse Eradication Project STEP

2.1. Project Objectives

The project has the following objectives: (1) to establish capacity at national and regional levels for sustainable removal of the T and T constraint by integrating different methods, including the sterile insect technique (SIT), (2) to introduce and apply these techniques on an area-wide basis to remove the T and T constraint from an area of 25 000 square kilometres in the Southern Rift Valley of Ethiopia, and (3) to create conditions for reducing pressure on highland resources and promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development in the Southern Rift Valley.

2.2. Project Area

The project area comprises about 25 000 square kilometres of the Southern Rift Valley, located between 4° 45' and 7° 15' northern latitudes and 36° 40' and 35° 20' eastern longitudes (Fig. 1).

This fertile lowland area, which is as low as 460 metres above sea level, is surrounded by highlands that rise to 4200 metres above sea level. The climate varies between humid and arid and annual precipitation is between 300-700 millimetres in the lowlands and 5001200 millimetres in the highlands. Average temperatures range between 11 and 38°C. Flora and fauna are abundant both within and outside the conservation areas that are situated within the project area such as the Nechisar National Park.

Figure 1. The Southern Tsetse Eradication Project (STEP) area. The area within the green box around Lake Abaya represents the 10 500 square kilometre STEP block-1 area.

In the Southern Rift Valley, the creation of a T and T-free zone (FAO 2002) is feasible as the target area is confined by high escarpments in the east, north and west and by vast arid land in the south, substantially reducing the risk of reinvasion from other tsetse-infest ed areas. Furthermore, in the main valley only Glossina pallidipes Austen has been found, although Glossina fuscipes fuscipes Newstead occurs in the Deme basin; a smaller valley in the north-western part of the Southern Rift Valley, which is connected with the Omo

River basin in the west.

2.3. Approach

Planning and implementation of project activities are based on the AW-IPM concept and require: (1) flexible management with clear lines of authority at national and regional level (Dyck et al. 2005), (2) adequate training and capacity building in management, sterile male mass-production, sterile male releases, and field monitoring, (3) methods development and refinement on tsetse mass-rearing, suppression, barrier systems, monitoring and overall quality assurance, and (4) technical activities such as baseline data collection, area-wide tsetse suppression, mass-production of tsetse flies, aerial releases of sterile male tsetse flies (Vreysen et al. 2000), and (5) entomological and parasitological monitoring. In addition, internationally agreed standards and procedures (Barclay et al. 2007) will be followed to verify eradication.

2.4. Organizational Structure and Role of Stakeholders

The project is managed by the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission (ESTC) in close interaction with the authorities of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR) and the Oromiya Regional State. Additional technical and research support is provided by national and international research institutions and mandated specialized United Nations (UN) agencies. A steering committee, made up of representatives of relevant regional agricultural bureaus, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), the ESTC, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) together with the project management is responsible for providing strategic administrative and technical policy decisions. It is assisted by a technical advisory committee, consisting of representatives of academic, national and international research and UN

institutions/organizations, and by national regulatory institutions. A national project coordination office, headed by a national coordinator manages day-to-day activities in addition to relevant national and regional capacity building efforts. The mass-rearing and irradiation facility at Addis Ababa-Kaliti is responsible for colony establishment, mass-rearing (including blood collection and diet processing), irradiation of male tsetse flies and preparations for release operations. The regional project coordination office in Awassa is responsible for the planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and overall coordination of field operations. There are also field operation teams located in Arba Minch, Dilla and Sodo.

Community awareness is important for generating acceptance among, and support from, the beneficiaries (Dransfield and Brightwell 2004). This concerns particularly human resources, without which project staff would not be in a position to implement the various activities at the necessary scale. The existing "grass root" regional government structures, including the agricultural extension services at district administrations and in the peasant associations, are instrumental in generating the required awareness and support in the communities.

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