ISAAA AfriCenter, in collaboration with ILRI and CIRAD, has so far conducted three net-mapping exercises to identify and map out key stakeholders that will influence effective operationalisation of One Health (OH) related policies in Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. The exercises that happened between May and June 2022 were held under the auspices of a four-year consortium dubbed Capacitating One Health in Eastern and Southern Africa (COHESA).

Net-mapping is a reflective tool for advanced problem solving that facilitates effective stakeholder engagement. It helps in understanding relationships and connections among actors in a complex network as well as identification of influencers within that system. According to Dr. Margaret Karembu, ISAAA AfriCenter’s Director and one of the consortium leads, “the participatory approach helps in building a better understanding among key players in a complex multidisciplinary network such as One Health, by creating a visual representation of respondents’ ideas and background conversations for deeper reflection.”

From the three exercises so far, it is clear that the OH concept is gaining momentum in the region, albeit with some challenges. For instance, at the government level, only two key-line ministries, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, and local/county governments were seen to be actively collaborating on OH related activities. In most cases however, the local/county governments were implementing the OH approach unconsciously. Additionally, there are no functional National One Health Platforms and all three countries either have a unit or a steering committee attempting to coordinate OH issues, although not institutionalised but domiciled in the Ministry of Health. Another bottle-neck identified was the silo mentality that is making collaboration and coordination of OH related activities challenging, as well as limited advocacy given conversations on OH were mainly centred among academia and research institutions, meaning the concept remains abstract and at the ivory tower.

Following in-country validation workshops of the net-mapping reports, results will be used to develop stakeholder engagement strategies that will seek to promote national and regional OH collaboration.

The COHESA project is supported by the European Commission OACPS Research and Innovation Programme: ACP-EU initiative, and co-founded through ILRI and CIRAD.