Africa Centre of Excellence for Innovative Rodent Pest Management and Biosensor Technology Development (RAT-tech)

Rodents are one of the most serious mammalian pests the world over. Rodents cause serious losses of crops in fields, stores, warehouses and factories. Rodents are problematic in our cities where their harbouring and feeding habits result in damage to sewage and drainage systems, building structure, damage electrical cables and gas piping systems. The economic and social impact of such damage is not quantified in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The ACE in IRPM&BTD would enhance Scientific Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (STI) on Rodent Pest Management in Africa.

Zoonotic diseases such as Lassa fever and bubonic plague are endemic in rural Africa, occasionally leading to serious outbreaks. More often than not, rodent-borne diseases are not recognized, as such, and hence are inadequately managed. Research on pest rodents is typically carried out by relatively isolated African researchers, and even fewer institutions have sustainable teams of experts studying the behaviour and innovative management of rodents. This low capacity for innovation has led to a situation whereby low investment has been accorded to rodent research, which explains the limited awareness and poor documentation of the scale of rodent pest problems on the African continent.

The IRPM&BTD activities will incorporate biosensor technology using trained rats for land mine detection and support their operational deployment to complement existing technologies to free mine afflicted lands in Africa and elsewhere and release these for safe use by humans (settlement, agriculture, mining, livestock, etc.). Novel diagnostic approaches are a key component to tackling Tuberculosis epidemic, yet in resource-limited settings in Africa, the latest advanced diagnostic technologies are sadly a serious challenge. Trained rats are efficient and reliable TB diagnostic biosensor technology.

The ACE in IRPM&BTD will build capacity through training at the MSc and PhD levels in rodent taxonomy, ecology, Science, Technology and Innovations in rodent management and biosensor technology in East, Southern and central Africa. IRPM&BTD will establish basic and applied research programmes for African scientists to pursue high-impact projects in rodent management, understanding the impact of zoonotic diseases on communities and their mitigation, and how best to use biosensor technology for detecting landmines and diagnosis of diseases.

World Bank