FEWS Tanzania Food Security Watch 08 May 2007 - Valley Fever spreads, threatens livelihoods, diet


Rift Valley Fever spreads

Rift Valley Fever (RVF), an acute, fever]causing viral disease that affects livestock and humans, that was initially reported in Manyara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions of northern Tanzania has spread to the country’s central Dodoma region, where it continues to cause human and animal deaths and threaten pastoralist livelihoods. The disease has claimed 34 human lives. Animal deaths and abortions have been reported in both the northern and central zones. RVF has led to significantly reduced consumption of red meat in the affected areas and in nearby regions that source their meat from these areas – including the main market center of Dar es Salaam.

Figure1. RVF affected areas as of April 2007

Source: FEWS NET

The income of households dependent on the livestock sector for their livelihoods has been significantly reduced following the fall of demand for red meat and the quarantine on animal sale and movement imposed in affected areas. Sale of livestock products and livestock]related labor opportunities have also decreased as a result of RVF.

Consumer households have also been significantly impacted by RVF, as they to spend more of their income on alternative protein sources. Reduced red meat consumption has also impacted protein intake, particularly for poor households, as the increasing prices of alternative sources of protein (sardines, other fish and poultry) limit their access to these products. If RVF continues to spread, the disease could have a negative long-term impact on the livestock industry as well as the food security of poor households.

The Government of Tanzania’s (GoT) Ministry of Livestock and Ministry of Health and Disaster Management Department, as well as local governments and NGOs, continue to implement RVF response activities and control measures. The GoT has prioritized the purchase of vaccines so that the ongoing vaccination campaign might prevent the disease from spreading further. However, vaccines are in short supply, and GoT has appealed for the immediate provision of $ 2,880,767 to implement the rapid response plan to combat the disease.

Given the current high soil moisture saturation in Tanzania, heavy ongoing March to June masika rains in bimodal areas may cause RVF to continue to spread. However, if there are no more floods and the GoT receives sufficient funds to carry out all planned vaccination efforts, the disease is likely to be contained. Nevertheless, because RVF is transmitted transiovarially through the eggs of Aedes mosquitos, which can hibernate for up to ten years waiting for flooding that needs to last only six to ten days, it is important that the GoT develop a long term strategy to monitor and combat future flood episodes of the virus in RVF-prone areas.