AHEAD Update – July / August / September 2019

Dear AHEAD Colleagues:

* Welcome to the latest issue of the AHEAD Update. As always, if you would like to post an item in the next Update, please just send it to us – thanks.


There has been exciting progress on addressing challenges at the livestock / wildlife interface in the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area:

* SADC Council of Ministers Formally Adopts AHEAD Guidelines on Commodity-Based Trade (CBT) of Beef for Managing Foot and Mouth Disease Risk

With this Southern African Development Community formal endorsement, the region's Council of Ministers urged Member States to implement the Guidelines to improve the livestock sector's access to markets while facilitating land-use planning that has the potential to address conflicts at the livestock / wildlife interface that have been unresolved for the past 70 years. For more details, see http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza/181114-guidelines-for-implementing-cbt-final.pdf. The Guidelines are in the process of being reformatted with a SADC logo, and will also be translated into SADC's other official languages, French and Portuguese.

* All Five KAZA Countries Send Representatives to the June, 2019 KAZA Animal Health Sub-Working Group meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The five-nation KAZA Treaty (2011) allows for the establishment of specialist advisory groups (Working Groups - WGs) to advise the KAZA Joint Management Committee (JMC) on their areas of specialisation, represent different sectors of society in the KAZA developmental process, and facilitate exchange of information on matters of mutual interest among the partner states. One such group, the Animal Health Sub-Working Group (AHSWG) under the official auspices of the Conservation WG, is now actively addressing veterinary challenges across KAZA through a cross-sectoral, integrated approach. AHEAD has been honored to continue to support the KAZA Secretariat to facilitate Animal Health Sub-Working Group meetings, enabling the leaders of wildlife and livestock veterinary efforts across KAZA to focus on the following (illustrative, not exhaustive) objectives:

  • Facilitate sustainable, integrated land use & livelihoods in KAZA;
  • Improve epidemiological understanding & ability to mitigate disease risks across the landscape;
  • Improve speed & accuracy of local disease diagnostics;
  • Improve wildlife forensics capacity;
  • Ensure fencing decisions are based on sound cross-sectoral cost / benefit analysis.

For more details on the AHSWG, including meeting agendas, presentations, report-outs, etc., please see http://www.wcs-ahead.org/kaza-ahswg/kaza-ahswg.html.

* Botswana Reestablishes Official Ad Hoc Committee on Fences after a 20+ year gap, renamed National Committee on Cordon Fences

Botswana continues to play a key regional leadership role in working to finally address conflicts between the livestock and wildlife sectors that have plagued the region since the late 1950s. The Terms of Reference of this high-level multi-agency deliberative committee include the following (illustrative, not exhaustive):

  • Determine the status of existing fences in the country;
  • Establish priority areas where studies on fencing should be commissioned;
  • Advise on wildlife friendly fencing options and innovative alternatives to fences including natural fences to protect crop fields;
  • Advise on and monitor the construction, maintenance, potential realignment and decommissioning of fences;
  • Advise on the management of animal health risks along national borders;
  • Advise on the management of transboundary wildlife species including migratory corridors and dispersal areas;
  • Support opportunities / techniques that accrue benefits to Batswana from multiple sectors.

* Gap Analysis for Implementation of CBT of Beef in Ngamiland: Stakeholder Validation Workshop Held in Maun, Botswana

The July 30th-August 1st, 2019 workshop was hosted by Botswana's Department of Veterinary Services in partnership with AHEAD. The forum, officially opened by Paramount Chief Kealetile Moremi of the Batawana and the Honourable Minister of Agricultural Development & Food Security Fidelis M. Molao, focused on local farmers and other key stakeholders, in order to:

  • Ensure a common understanding of CBT approaches to beef production;
  • Review and evaluate the identified gaps along the value chain, as well as potentially identify additional ones; and
  • Identify, through a participatory process, where and how stakeholders might play roles in filling those gaps.

The forum was attended by more than 100 participants, including technical experts from both the livestock and wildlife sectors, representatives from Ngamiland farming communities, as well as stakeholders from the private sector (including the beef and tourism sectors), development partners, NGOs, diverse government departments, and academia.

The final Gap Analysis report will be distributed to all participants and be made available on the AHEAD website (and highlighted in the AHEAD Update) as soon as final stakeholder input from the workshop has been incorporated.


* Behavior Change for Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners (2019) Rare and The Behavioral Insights Team, Arlington, Virginia We are fortunate to live in a world filled with both an abundance and diversity of life. Yet the growing scale and impact of human behavior pose a grave risk to the natural world in irreversible ways. Deforestation, overfishing, ocean plastics, biodiversity loss, and climate change are increasingly threatening the livelihoods, health, and well-being of people as well as the species and places we know and love. Past and current efforts in facing these challenges have tended to rely on a standard toolbox that enacts regulations, provides financial incentives or disincentives, and raises awareness about the dire consequences of our actions. These tools have merit – and are sometimes the most effective approaches we have. But oftentimes enforcement is difficult or ineffectual, payments for conservation outcomes can backfire, and information or education efforts come up against our biases, denial and wishful thinking. Behavioral science can provide a far more realistic understanding of what works, in the real world. In this report, the authors expand the conventional toolkit and argue for a greater focus on how our cognitive biases, emotions, social networks, and decision-making environments all impact our behaviors and choices. They provide 15 concrete tools for conservation and sustainability practitioners, and the methodologies for putting them into practice, to achieve (and evaluate) real change. To download the full report, see: http://rare.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-Behavior-Change-for-Nature-Report-digital.pdf,

* Systems Thinking in Practice: Participatory Modeling as a Foundation for Integrated Approaches to Health (2018) Duboz R, Echaubard P, Promburom P, Kilvington M, Ross H, Allen W, Ward J, Deffuant G, de Garine-Wichatitsky M, Binot A. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00303One Health (OH), EcoHealth (EH), and Planetary Health (PH) share an interest in transdisciplinary efforts that bring together scientists, citizens, government and private sectors to implement contextualized actions that promote adaptive health management across human, animal and ecosystem interfaces. A key operational element underlying these Integrated Approaches to Health (IAH) is use of Systems Thinking as a set of tools for integration. In this paper we discuss the origins and epistemology of systems thinking and argue that participatory modeling, informed by both systems theory and expertise in facilitating engagement and social learning, can help ground IAH theoretically and support its development. Participatory modeling is iterative and adaptive, which is necessary to deal with complexity in practice. Participatory modeling (PM) methods actively involve affected interests and stakeholders to ground the field of inquiry in a specific social-ecological context. Furthermore, PM processes act to reconcile the diverse understandings of the empirical world that stem from divergent discipline and community viewpoints. In this perspective article, we argue that PM can support systems thinking in practice and is essential for IAH implementation. Accordingly we invite PH, OH, and EH practitioners to systematically incorporate specialists in systems science and social engagement and facilitation. This will enable the appropriate contextualization of research practice and interventions, and ensure a balanced representation of the roles and relationships of medical, biological, mathematical, and social disciplines. For completeness, funding schemes supporting IAH need to follow the same iterative, adaptive, and participative processes to accompany IAH projects throughout their implementation.

* New Book - Through My Eyes: Journey of a Wildlife Veterinarian (2019) Kock MD, 600 pp. with 1400 photographs – Dr. Michael Kock has produced an extraordinary coffee table-sized book, a conservationist's powerful visual journey across Africa and beyond. Dr. Kock (an AHEAD alum!) has assembled mesmerizing images and narrative that highlight the challenges of sustainable conservation in the face of the tremendous pressures generated by inequality, corruption, population growth, and poverty. Noting that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, please see https://through-my-eyes.co.za/.


* Planetary Health Alliance Annual Meeting, September 4-6, 2019, Palo Alto, California, USA – The Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of universities, NGOs, and other partners committed to advancing planetary health - an interdisciplinary field focused on improving our understanding, and our ability to measure, the public health impacts of anthropogenic environmental change, so as to inform decision-making in the land-use planning, ocean-use planning, environmental conservation and public health policy realms. The conference's overarching objective is to catalyze efforts to address the great planetary health crises of our time. We aim to:

  • Strengthen the scientific case for planetary health framing;
  • Learn from attempts to solve planetary health problems - both failures and successes;
  • Convene stakeholders from academia, the private sector, civil society and government to support catalytic conversations to address the crises humanity clearly faces.

For more information on the meeting, please see https://planetaryhealthannualmeeting.org/.

* Global Foot and Mouth Disease Research Alliance (GFRA) Scientific Meeting, October 29-31, 2019, Bangkok, Thailand GFRA is a worldwide association of animal health research organizations that are involved in combating foot and mouth disease (FMD). Its aim is to build a global alliance of partners to generate and share knowledge – in a virtual FMD laboratory - to develop tools that can better combat the threat of disease. They invite you to 'save the date' and join them at this year's scientific meeting focused on "Advancing FMD Research by Bridging the Gaps with Novel Tools." For more information, see https://www.gfra2019.com/, or contact Wilna Vosloo at wilna.vosloo@csiro.au.

Again, if you have items for the next AHEAD Update, please just let us know – thanks.

"What is AHEAD?" Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development was launched at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa. By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across East and southern Africa, we were fortunate to have tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent – and AHEAD was born. Since then, a range of programs addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched with the support of a growing list of implementing partners and donors who see the intrinsic value of the One World, One Health approach. AHEAD is a convening, facilitative mechanism, working to create enabling environments that allow different and often competing sectors to literally come to the same table and find collaborative ways forward to address challenges at the interface of wildlife health, livestock health, and human health and livelihoods. We convene stakeholders; help delineate conceptual frameworks to underpin planning, management and research; and provide technical support and resources for projects stakeholders identify as priorities. AHEAD recognizes the need to look at health and disease not in isolation but within a given region's environmental and socioeconomic context.

Yours in conservation and development,

Steve & Shirley