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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora