Event Report

Voices from the Ground: Challenges for the Transnational African Zoonoses Education Campaign in 4 African countries

Pro Wildlife and its four partner organisations from Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Zambia presented on Transnational African Zoonosis Education Campaign (ZEC) during the Alliance’s ‘Voices from the Ground’ Event on February 1, 2024. The ZECs integrate a One Health approach and is implemented in the four African countries. Before the start of the education campaigns, the German wildlife conservation organization Pro Wildlife has worked on the establishment of scientific foundations and background of zoonotic risks in the four project countries. These results have subsequently been communicated to the public through the partnering rescue centers and their education campaigns. During the Event, speakers from each country, that together form a consortium of four rescue centers, presented on successes and challenges they have encountered during their campaigns. The Event was moderated by Dr. Dauda Ayomide Onawola who is part of Pandrillus Nigeria.

Four main challenges were discussed, one by each consortium partner, here you can find the key takeaways:

People have always eaten bushmeat – why should we bother now? 

Beyan Borbor, Libassa, Liberia 

  • Breaking long traditions is difficult, as Liberia has a culture of eating bushmeat. However, factors such as increasing outbreaks of zoonotic diseases due to anthropogenic drivers, increasing governmental support, and a transition to alternatives to bushmeat due to threat of bushmeat confiscations have had a positive effect on the reduction of bushmeat consumption.  

Messaging for different ages and levels of education 

Wilson Ateh, LWC, Cameroon

  • Communication has been adjusted to reach different target groups. From the level of language to the form of presentations, it is important to use the right means of communication for each target group to ensure the key messages are understood.

Opportunities and threats – actual health issues in the countries 

Wilson Chinda, GRI, Zambia 

  • Current health crises pose threats as well as opportunities: Although public life has been limited (school closings, etc.), street markets have been banned in the very places where parts of the population rely on them, media coverage has focused more on sanitation than on decreasing bushmeat consumption, opportunities concerning governmental cooperation and partnerships, awareness and behavioural change in relation to bushmeat consumption, and shrinking illegal bushmeat markets have emerged.

How to reach millions of people with diverse ethnicity, language, cultural beliefs…? 

Dauda Onawola, Pandrillus, Nigeria 

  • Nigeria is home to over 500 languages; therefore, several ambassadors have been identified and radio broadcasts have been produced in Pidgin English, which is spoken by the public as lingua franca, finally social media was utilised as a public education tool to reach target audiences.

During the Q&A session, emerging challenges given the different national contexts were discussed. Dr. Onawola elaborated on how the implementation of national education campaigns is facilitated through having one lingua franca spoken by the whole population in Nigeria compared to other national contexts where this is not the case, for example in Cameroon. Other topics were discussed, such as a lack of data concerning daily consumption patterns of bushmeat, the promotion of alternative protein sources from non-wildlife sources such as chicken, or the integration of religious leaders into the educational campaigns. Once again, the national context is important. All consortium partners, when possible, approach and consult with religious leaders and integrate them into the campaigns. The inclusion of other stakeholders can be more challenging at times. However, a lesson learnt from Zambia refers to the use of the right messaging, the how to of establishing contact, displaying an openness to various stakeholders with different agendas, and integrating a broad range – from wildlife conservation to tourism and churches – of stakeholders. Dialogue and mediation are useful tools to establish common ground for a common goal of protecting wildlife and to avoid potential conflicts. As Dr. Onawola described, since the project employs a One Health approach, everybody has a role to play. The implementation and education concerning the health and well-being of humans, wildlife, animals, and the environment is not the job of one profession but should be cross-sectoral. 

If you have any further questions or if you would like to get in touch with the project leads, please contact the Secretariat via alliance-health-wildlife@giz.de