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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More