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

Project Summary

Focus on motivation, objectives, methodology, results and partnerships. Must include a section on important changes made.(Please remember to use the reviewers’ feedback as requested/applicable)

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.  Africa urgently needs centres that are able to conduct state of the art research on rodents in order to overcome their negative impact on crop productivity, human health and damage of property and structures. For centuries, rodents have changed the history of nations (e.g.the plague pandemics in Asia, Europe and Africa) but in the 21st century, only Africa is more susceptible to the catastrophes involving rodents than any other continent. The aim of the ACE IRPM&BTD would be to 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 behavior 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.

 In order to enable our partners in Eastern Africa to be able to develop capacity in rodent biology and management, the ACE IRPM&BTD will facilitate the establishment of Rodent Research Units (RRU) in Uganda and Ethiopia. The RRU will become the hub for research on rodents in their respective countries in order to generate knowledge, develop technologies and disseminate them to stakeholders. The RRU will build capacity in STI on rodent pest management. The ACE IRPM&BTD will train the core staff of the RRU to MSc and PhD levels. The formation of the RRU will lead to research collaborations regionally and internationally and in the process attract sustainable funding for their activities.

 The ACE for IRPM&BTD will build capacity through training at the MSc and PhD levels in rodent taxonomy, ecology, innovative STI in rodent management and biosensor technology in East, Southern and central Africa. The ACE IRPM&BTD will train not less than 75 MSc students and 30 PhDs. About 30 of these
candidates will be from our regional partners. The ACE IRPM&BTD will establish basic and applied research programs 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.

Project Duration

2017 – 2020

Pest Management Centre

SUA (Tanzania)

NIMR and MoH

Tanzania

Busitema University(BU)

Uganda

University of Greenwich

United Kingdom

University of Antwerp (UA)

Belgium

Mekele University

Ethiopia

World Bank

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