How does information about a suspected outbreak of avian influenza on the farm level reach the respective authorities? How and through which actors is the response to a confirmed outbreak implemented on the ground? These were the guiding questions for representatives of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, poultry producers and traders and the research sector, to map out the information and response networks concerning Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Ethiopia. This report shows the resulting network maps drawn, indicating the actors involved, their different kinds of linkages and the influence that these actors have on making sure that the information about suspected outbreaks on the farm or market level reaches the national authorities and that appropriate and timely response is implemented. While Ethiopia has not experienced a confirmed outbreak of HPAI yet, the participants drew from the experience of two past outbreaks of the Gumboro disease that were mistaken for HPAI and thus the HPAI response was set into action. These cases occurred in a government run multiplication centre, thus the network map drawn is a combination from this experience and an extrapolation to the possibilities of an outbreak on the respective farm levels. While participants generally saw the response as effective and efficient they also highlighted that outbreaks on commercial farms or backyard farms might pose different challenges, e.g. in terms of enforcement. The participants pointed out a number of challenges that either call for more research (knowledge gaps) or changes in institutional set-ups and the actual way that things are done on the ground:
- Overly complex co-ordination structure for the response. There is a number of co-ordinating bodies, with different reach and bureaucratic requirements, which might delay the necessary action.
- Logistical problems: Shortage of all materials (disinfectants, rubber gloves etc.) needed for action due to economic situation and market restriction, laboratories fill the gap with their supplies, however, this would not be sufficient in case of a more severe, bigger scale outbreak.
- Whether or not the information about an outbreak in the rural areas reaches the national level in a timely manner, depends on who the farmer chooses to contact first, as some rural actors (traditional and modern animal healers) do not tend to report problems to officials
- The wet market (where life animals are sold) is not as integrated into the information and response system as the different kinds of farms are. An outbreak on the wet market would rarely get reported, as traders have little information and little incentives (no compensation) to do so.