The belief that water birds cause avian flu has raised concern in Djibouti, a small Eastern African country bordering the Gulf of Aden in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is on the path of migratory water birds from the Northern Hemisphere and is seen to be particularly vulnerable to the avian flu.
Although the belief has not been scientifically proven, conservation experts are concerned that it could lead to the killing of water-birds for fear of an outbreak of the disease.
It is for this reason that IUCN recently provided support to the Ministry of Land and Urban Planning, Habitat and Environment, and the Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture in an initiative to train trainers, who will in turn build the capacities of local agents to monitor and report suspicious deaths among migratory birds.
“Some people, mainly poultry farmers, are said to have contracted the avian flu,” says IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Technical Coordinator, Professor Laurent Ntahuga who convened the training. “This has therefore become a matter of concern for the Djibouti Government as infected persons can become a source of the terrible Avian Influenza Virus, the H5N1. Empowering local agents to monitor water birds in the sea and lakeshores will shed more light on the situation and provide information which the government can act upon.”
The participants visited Lake Abhé – a popular roosting site and habitat for bird migrants on the south-western border with Ethiopia – to enhance their knowledge of the migratory birds.
The training resulted in the formation of the National Migratory Bird Monitoring Network comprising all the participants as the initial core group.
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