News / Africa

    Ethiopia Is Using Radiation to Eradicate Tsetse Flies

    Worku Tegegne pets his cow in Ghibe Valley, southwest of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is suffering from bovine trypanosomosis, transmitted by tsetse flies.
    Worku Tegegne pets his cow in Ghibe Valley, southwest of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is suffering from bovine trypanosomosis, transmitted by tsetse flies.
    Ethiopia is winning the battle against the tsetse fly, using what officials say is safe nuclear technology.  

    The project to battle livestock-menacing tsetse flies started in April in a laboratory on the outskirts of the capital. The key weapon? Radiation.

    Terzu Daya, the director the lab, explains how it works.

    “The purpose of radiation is to make them [tsetste flies] to be sterile," said Daya. "If you avoid further generation, so that the tsetse fly can be eradicated. The main secret behind this is that, once female flies mate with the male, she will not mate again in her life. That’s the advantage."

    After the sterilization, a plane spreads thousands of non-productive tsetse flies every Wednesday in various parts of Ethiopia, especially along riverbed breeding grounds. So far, more than a million laboratory flies have been released. Now sterilized flies outnumber fertile flies, eight to one.

    Thomas Cherenet, the director general of the Southern Tsetse Eradication Project, says the program is safe, effective and will not affect the delicate food chain balance.

    "They [the tsteste flies] are not even used in the food chain," said Cherenet. "They are not used for any animal to be fed."

    The tsetse fly is only found in Africa and poses threats to both humans and livestock.  The blood sucking fly spreads a parasite which causes trypanosomiasis and attacks the central nervous system. In humans the disease is commonly called sleeping sickness. In cattle and other livestock it is called nagana. Its symptoms are similar to malaria and it can kill, if left untreated. Tens of millions of Africans and their livestock are at risk each year.

    Cherenet says the radiation project to eradicate the tsetse is having a quick and positive impact. He notes that the livestock population has tripled this year.

    “Production and productivity of the animal increases when it is healthy," said Cherenet. "In some places the crop has increased, that means they have a good plug power of the animal. And, the milk production increases, and the meat production increased so this is a benefit they got.”

    More than 80 percent of Ethiopians depend on livestock production and agriculture.

    The radiation project is funded and promoted by the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA Director General Yukiya sees great potential for this nuclear technology in the world.

    “Tsetse flies is one of the examples," said Yukiya. "This same technology can be used for fruit flies. In Guatemala and in a part of Argentina they have applied this technology to eradicate fruit flies. And, thanks to this technology, they can export oranges and other citrus fruits to a very prosperous market in  northern America.”

    The IAEA also funded and promoted the first breakthrough tsetse radiation project in Zanzibar in 1997. The same technology is what is now being copied in Ethiopia. But Amano says that the success of Zanzibar does not guarantee success in all other places.

    “The geographical situation is important," said Amano. "If the area is isolated, like an isolated island like Zanzibar, it is easy that the insect will not come in again.”

    While Ethiopia is trying its best to get rid of the tsetse fly for good, insects on the continent have the strong capacity of moving. African Union Commissioner of Technology Rhoda Peace Tumuslime says that other countries need to commit to eradicate the fly as well.

    “The tsetse flies, they know no border," said Tumuslime. "So each country should ensure that they control, so eventually we will eradicate tsetse flies from the continent.”

    Complete eradication of the tsetse flies is expected to take several decades.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meteorquake from: Edinburgh, Scotland
    November 14, 2012 4:36 PM
    Good progress... and yet unless properly combined with other techniques, i suspect the ultimate result will simply be the selection and spread of tsetse flies that mate not once but multiple times... d

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora