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07COTONOU950 2007-12-17 08:04:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Cotonou
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1.(SBU) Summary: Test results on the poultry which died from avian
influenza (AI) in Benin (Ref B) indicate that the poultry was
positive for H5N1. Roger Dovonou, the Minister of Agriculture,
announced the results on television on December 15, 2007. The GOB
began, over the weekend of December 15 - 16, a culling campaign in
the affected areas. No new AI outbreaks have been reported as of
December 17. The GOB needs to begin exercising more coordination of
the response to AI. End Summary.

2.(U) Dovonou announced on December 15 that tests performed in
Padova, Italy confirmed the poultry which died in Adjarra and
Cotonou tested positive for H5N1. Dovonou spoke to the public on
the need to alert the authorities to sick poultry and to cook
poultry well. The GOB is currently treating AI as an agricultural
problem with the response lead by the Ministry of Agriculture. The
Ministry of Health has not yet begun to play a role in the response.

3.(U) The GOB began a culling operation over the weekend in Adjarra
and Cotonou. It expects to cull 2,000 birds in Cotonou and 27,000
in Adjarra. The FAO has determined there is a need for $120,000 for
compensation for farmers who lose their chickens to the culling
campaign. The GOB has not yet identified the source for this money
and farmers have not been compensated for birds culled to date.

3.(U) The FAO and GOB finalized the budget to deal with a 6 month
campaign against AI at a cost of $1.9 million. The plan is
predicated on funding the response to 6 new outbreaks occurring over
the next 6 months. UNICEF will provide $75,000 to fund the roll-out
of the previously developed communications plan on AI and UNDP plans
to provide $75,000 for emergency support and containment

4.(SBU) Comment: The GOB has not yet ramped up its coordinating
capacity to respond to these outbreaks. Donors, including UNICEF
and UNDP, are ready to act but need coordination from the Ministry
of Agriculture. The GOB needs to move swiftly to coordinate a
communications campaign to raise public awareness of AI and put in
place a compensation fund to discourage farmers from hiding their
sick poultry. End Comment.