WHAT IS WAVE?
The Central and West African Virus Epidemiology (WAVE) is an international research program working towards food security in Africa through coordinated efforts to control the spread of root and tuber crops viral diseases affecting Africa’s smallholder farmers’ livelihood.
Launched in 2015 with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Foreign, Commonweath and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom, WAVE conducted a successful first phase that resulted in the donors granting the program a second phase and extending its geographical scope.
Headquartered in Côte d’Ivoire, WAVE is implemented in ten (10) countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Sierra Leone and hosted by thirteen (13) national agricultural research institutes and universities.
Root and tuber crops are at the centre stage of Africans’ dietary habits. Particularly rich in protein and carbohydrates, they represent an important source of energy for the human body. Besides, the sales of manufactured and industrial products made from root and tuber crops, generates income and jobs for local populations. They are vital for thousands of African smallholder farmers’ survival. However, their production is affected by several constraints, thus threatening the main livelihoods of African smallholder farmers. Considering the importance of root and tuber crops for Africa’s food security and economic stability, WAVE has therefore decided to be proactive. The program addresses the spread of root and tuber crop viral diseases in West and Central Africa, with particular emphasis on cassava viral diseases.
CASSAVA, OUR STAR CROP
Cassava was named the “21st century crop” by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) for its resilience to climate change and its ability to address food security challenges. In Africa, cassava feeds nearly fifty hundred (500) million people, as it is affordable and easy to grow. It can also be processed into a variety of foods and used for industrial purposes. Thus, with the sales of cassava’s manufactured products local populations considerably raise their income. However, cassava production is threatened by two main viruses: Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD).
The first disease is widespread in Africa and causes 40 to 70% yield loss. As for CBSD, it can cause up to 100% yield loss. It is currently present in Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Congo and DRC and is spreading towards Central and West Africa. An outbreak of these two main viruses, especially CBSD, would be a complete disaster for African smallholder farmers. Learning from the mistakes in the management of the Ebola virus outbreak, WAVE decided to be proactive and addresses cassava viral diseases threat by monitoring, predicting their spread in Central and West Africa regions and developing preventive control measures with the governments.