Dr. Dessalegn Jarso, Hailu Wedajo, Dr. Mohammed Aliy and Hagere Mekonnen (pictured above) have a tough job. One that takes a lot of patience and involves the inclusion and coordination of multiple stakeholders. This three-person team is trying to keep your meat and milk safe. As a population grows and more segments of society become richer, a change in diet is one of the first things to occur, specifically a higher demand for meat. As the demand for meat continues to increase in Oromia with the burgeoning population, the Government is faced with a number of challenges in ensuring safe consumption of animal products.
The Oromia Livestock and Fishery Bureau is currently spearheading the initiative to maintain quality meat, milk and other animal products. While the establishment of this regulatory body under the Livestock Fishery Resource Development Bureau is a step forward to alleviate the bottlenecks in the sector, it is still a work in progress.
Hailu, the Slaughterhouses’ Service Coordinator and meat hygiene expert at Burayou town municipality explains, the situation related to meat hygiene is “a problem emanated due to less attention given to the slaughterhouses in particular and livestock sector in general.” Dr. Aliy, expert at the Oromia regulator of BoLF adds, “Lack of infrastructure and meat hygiene experts are also major problems.”
A change in government regulations involves creating awareness of the issues. All stakeholders, including the municipality representatives, human health services, environment bureau, urban industry, workers, communities and consumers, must mutually agree on how to remedy the various evolving problems. For two years, the USAID AGP-LMD project has employed complementary strategies to bring together these groups and find common solutions.
AGP-LMD initiated Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) to serve as a forum for these respective parties. “MSPs were arranged in five selected towns of Oromia where participants drawn from different government sectors attended, as well as meat inspectors in the region, some selected butchery houses, veterinarians and religious leaders,” explained Dr. Mohamed (pictured left). The meetings, which occur over a two-three-day span, garnered almost 80 attendees at each event. By bringing these groups together, AGP-LMD aims to change the attitude of the participants by explaining the deadly dangers that can occur from consuming unsafe meat and milk. It is also an opportunity to teach safe handling practices, better transportation methods, and to stress the importance of regulating slaughterhouses and meat inspections.
While MSPs are designed to present information and facilitate discussions with the objective of changing the attitudes of those in attendance, it is only one strategy AGP-LMD uses. The project is additionally training more workers on meat hygiene. “Two years ago, I took part in the Training of Trainers (ToT) program conducted by LMD on standard meat hygiene,” Hailu described. “After having taken this training, I was then able to train nearly 70 government body stakeholders in the sector in Ambo.” The ToT program is a critical part in gaining an uptick in meat inspectors that Oromia so desperately needs.
“When a greater focus is given to livestock, greater benefits will be reaped from the sector,” notes Hailu. And that is exactly what AGP-LMD is doing by hosting MSPs and conducting trainings. One of the results from the MSPs involved both the towns of Ambo and Waliso upgrading its meat transportation. But the most significant change is the first proposal of a regulatory law that hold illegal slaughterhouses and backyard slaughters liable. Crafting this legislation began over a year ago and is now in the final stages to be signed and endorsed by the Council/Caffee.
Change in government regulations does not happen overnight. But to keep those consuming meat and milk safe, AGP-LMD remains dedicated to designing and implementing strategies that will continue to push forward these positive developments.