Newsletter September | 2023



Anja Desai (Managing Director)

Do you remember these awful three years when we all were under siege by the Covid-19 pandemic – the lockdowns, the tests, the masks, the difficulties to work, to travel, to meet other people? More than 195 countries were affected, international trade almost came to a grinding halt, and at least around seven million deaths were attributed to COVID-19 while excess mortality data estimate the true number of deaths at 16.5 to 26.8 million worldwide.

Well, these were the repercussions of what is called a zoonotic disease transferred from animals to humans. The pandemic has been a bitter reminder of the interconnectedness of all life forms on our planet. Unfortunately but most probably there is more to come. Did you know that 75 % of newly emerging diseases are caused by zoonosis such as HIV, Ebola, swine and bird flu?

This is why there is a vital need for a united approach to preserving the delicate balance between us humans and nature. The One Health concept is such a united approach that offers a holistic path towards safeguarding not just human health but the welfare of all living beings and the earth itself. The concept goes beyond zoonosis. For example, antibiotic resistance fueled by the overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals is a major concern.

To us at GFA Consulting Group, the One Health approach marks a transformative shift from segmented systems to interdisciplinary alliances and cohesive integration across all sectors and levels. In practical terms that means we foster knowledge sharing through digital innovation, smart databases and surveillance among our teams of experts. We emphasize community-based strategies by integrating valuable insights from traditional and local knowledge systems.

Most importantly, we at GFA foster a collaborative atmosphere and actively unite experts from various professional, cultural and national backgrounds. This interdisciplinary synergy is at the heart of tackling health challenges holistically and reflects the company’s commitment to promoting comprehensive well-being and sustainability at a global scale.

For us at GFA, the One Health approach is not just a theoretical concept – it is a call to action, a guiding principle for our experts. The articles in this newsletter cover success stories from ongoing GFA projects engaged in One Health in Europe, Vietnam, Togo and Sub-Saharan Africa. The time for collaboration is now for us to find the key to a healthy world for all.


Eva Schildbach |

Planet earth is home to a diversity of life forms that offer beauty and sustenance but also harbor health threats such as the recent Sars-Cov-2 pandemic. The One Health concept is vital for preserving the planet's delicate balance.

We human beings are fortunate to call planet earth our home. Its magnificent and diverse ecosystems teem with millions of remarkable plant and animal species. This diversity of life forms not only adds beauty and wonder to our surroundings but is also indispensable for the sustenance and survival of our very existence. However, amidst this astounding biodiversity, our ecosystems also harbors microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, which can pose threats to human health.

Around 75% of newly emerging diseases are so-called zoonotic diseases, originating in animals and transferred to humans. Aside from the Sars-Cov-2 virus, well-known examples are HIV, Ebola, swine and bird flu. To prevent zoonosis, a multi-sectoral approach is needed. The recent Covid pandemic has been a bitter reminder of the interconnectedness of all life forms and the vital need for a united approach to preserving the delicate balance of our planet.

The One Health concept is such a united approach that offers a transformative path towards safeguarding not just human health but the wellbeing of all living beings and the earth itself.

The One Health concept is such a united approach that offers a transformative path towards safeguarding not just human health but the wellbeing of all living beings and the earth itself. It incorporates multidisciplinary collaboration in the detection, prevention, and management of health risks, disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and related phenomena. The core principle is the realization that ecosystem linkages and interdependencies require an integrated, multi-sectoral, and unifying approach that aims at balancing and optimizing human, animal, and ecosystem health in a sustainable manner. This principle recognizes the complement and enhanced connectivity among existing international agreements, advanced pandemic prevention and sustainable preparedness. Addressing the complex health issues at the human-animal-ecosystem interface requires multi-disciplinary experts and a broad range of stakeholders to manage and overcome the challenges effectively. At the global level, four major agencies collaborate to accomplish what no single sector can achieve independently composed – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). This so called Quadripartite’s comprehensive Joint Action Plan on One Health primarily strives to harmonize global activities, effectively addressing health risks at the crucial interfaces between humans, animals, and ecosystems. The same objective is also increasingly pursued by development cooperation partners and donors such as the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), where an increased interest and investments in One Health projects and tailored strategies can be observed.

GFA projects and services

What is happening at a global scale also translates into the work of GFA. The multi-disciplinary fields of One Health represented across GFA’s technical departments invite collaboration and exchange. Relevant technical departments and units have started a regular sharing of knowledge in order to provide targeted and multi-sectoral consultancy services GFA projects advocate for sustainable and responsible environmental practices that safeguard ecosystems and minimize environmental factors contributing to health risks.

Sustainable Development Goals

By promoting the adoption of eco-friendly approaches, sustainable resource management, and pollution reduction, GFA experts aim at protecting human and animal health while preserving the integrity of relevant ecosystems in line with the SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 15 (Life on Land), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water), among others.

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#OneHealth #pandemic #gfagroup #sdg2 #sdg15 #sdg6 #sdg14


Julia Knoth |
©bsd studio | istockphoto | GFA

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GFA in cooperation with partners is developing a preparedness training program for public health specialists in 27 member states of the European Union (EU) and three countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).

In October 2022, the EU adopted a regulation on serious cross-border threats to health to be implemented under member states’ law. The regulation aims at faster, joint, and more effective EU responses to cross-border health threats. It was driven by the experiences with the Corona virus, which ignored national borders.

Led by GFA, the multi-country project Emergency Preparedness Integrated Courses under Article 11 (EPIC11) has been supporting the implementation of Art. 11 of the Regulation since 2022, focusing on the training of public health specialists. In close cooperation with the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and Think Modular from Austria, EPIC11 is creating a comprehensive, modular training program tailored to the specific national needs and capacities. The training follows a multi-sector and all-hazards approach, developed for a series of 60 workshops. After trainings in 30 countries, the final online training course will be hosted online by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).

EPIC11 contributes to strengthening EU member states’ response capacity to health emergencies towards concerted action at all levels for effectively managing health emergencies. The project is funded by the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) with a total value of 5,4 million Euros. The implementation until 2025 in all 30 countries is guided by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety in close cooperation with all other relevant EU services.

> EPIC11 | EU Countries Workshop

#crisispreparedness #EU


Johanna Kueckes |
Civet held in tiny cage in registered wildlife farm in Nghe An | ©GFA

GFA conducted a feasibility study to support Vietnam’s endeavors to prevent future zoonosis outbreaks through improved protected area management and better control of wildlife poaching and trade.

In 2022, experts of the Natural Resources & Environment Department of GFA conducted a feasibility study funded by KfW Development Bank on the prevention of zoonotic diseases through control and reduction of wildlife trade and poaching in Vietnam. Wildlife species there are not only losing their valuable habitats at an alarming rate, but they are also severely threatened by legal and illegal wildlife trade because the country is a source, destination and international transit hub for wildlife products. This situation has led to increased risks of zoonotic disease outbreaks as any situation that increases the proximity and contacts between animals and humans promotes disease spillover. In Vietnam, wildlife has historically been indiscriminately hunted, traded, and consumed. This encompasses rodents, carnivores, bats and primates, which represent the wild animal reservoirs with the highest proportion of zoonotic viruses. GFA developed several initiatives to support Vietnam’s national endeavors to prevent future zoonosis outbreaks through improved protected area management and better control of wildlife poaching and trade.

National park in Vietnam ©everigenia | istockphoto
GFA experts suggest that better and more effective collaboration between the forestry and the health sector will be essential to reach this goal. At the provincial level, the project will establish pilot One Health (OH) networks at the human-animal-ecosystem interface, and support their operation by improving inter-agency and inter-sectoral cooperation between relevant stakeholders. By this means, the project will contribute to achieving the overall goals of Vietnam’s OH initiative as formulated in the OH partnership master plan 2021-2025. The future project will carry out risk analyses for zoonotic diseases, develop a risk management strategy, and implement and monitor the latter. In addition, an OH surveillance strategy will be designed and implemented. At the national level, the project will facilitate liaison and data sharing on wildlife diseases and zoonoses with relevant agencies through the OH Partnership for Zoonoses Secretariat. Improving hygienic and veterinary standards as well as introducing and enforcing safe practices in wildlife farms and animal rescue centers will be additional important project interventions. By supporting the testing for pathogens in wild animals, the project will further mitigate pandemic risks.

#zoonosis #WildlifeTrade #ProtectedAreaManagement #vietnam


S. Cooray, P. Shoshi, K. Tovbaeva |
©bkupper |

Two GFA departments demonstrated a systematic and integrated approach by collaborating with a high leverage effect when tackling complex technical challenges in agriculture, food security, nutrition, and public health.

ProSecAL stands as a beacon of progress that has promoted food security, food safety, and nutrition while safeguarding the livelihoods of farmers and bolstering the sustainability and resilience of agri-food systems. By integrating a wide array of stakeholders from multi-disciplinary experts to local communities and policymakers, the project exemplifies the collaborative nature necessary for the successful transformation of agrifood systems towards improved well-being and health for individuals, animals, plants, and the environment. This is why the ProSecAL project has aligned so well with the One Health concept and was embedded in the context of the A World Without Hunger (SEWOH) special initiative, both initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

©GFA | Deborah Amanor
(Fields of action and expertise provided during ProSecAl - PDF poster) The primary objective of ProSecAL in Togo has been to enhance the nutritional well-being of children aged 0-23 months and their mothers aged 15-49 years in the Maritime, Kara, and Plateaux regions of the country. Recognizing the complex nature of food insecurity and malnutrition, the GFA project team has embraced a multi-sectoral approach that forged close partnerships with the Togolese Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health, particularly its Nutrition Division. The involvement of the two ministries has been instrumental in facilitating the implementation of international food security initiatives such as Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) and the Global Alliance for Resilience Initiative (AGIR). Project implementation has been carried out in collaboration with regional and municipal service providers within the agriculture and health sectors.

To achieve tangible outcomes, GFA ARD and health experts have employed an integrated, multi-sectoral approach across four fields of action:

  1. Mother-child nutrition, basic hygiene and nutrition aspects in agricultural extension,
  2. awareness raising on nutrition and basic hygiene,
  3. year-round availability of high quality food, and
  4. nutrition governance at the national level.

A variety of tools and methods has been employed to provide comprehensive technical assistance and support. By adopting this holistic approach, GFA has aimed at addressing the complex interplay of factors contributing to food security and malnutrition while fostering sustainable solutions.

The measures undertaken have not only encompassed food but also addressed issues related to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, health, nutritional awareness, and social security. GFA consultants have adopted a community-based approach that has focused on empowering and educating women to safeguard the long-term success of project endeavours. The project team dedicated significant efforts to impactful awareness-raising campaigns on nutrition and food security while also advocating the inclusion of these issues on the agenda of local authorities.

Learn more about GFA projects around SEWOH:

> Conservation and rehabilitation of degraded soils in Western Kenya

> Nutrition expert on private sector engagement

> Nutrition expert for West and Central Africa

> IT-based M&E tool adapted to the needs of the global project AgriChains

> Conservation and rehabilitation of degraded soils in Western Kenya - ProSoil

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#agrifood #foodsecurity #prosecal


Yulia Titova |

Success stories from projects in Sub-Saharan Africa implemented by the Water, Sanitation & Waste Management Department of GFA (WS&WM) confirm that applying the One Health approach to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) issues can create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable future.

Water is a key resource and an impact multiplier for One Health, an approach that optimizes the health of people, animals and ecosystems through cross-sectoral collaboration. Water scarcity and pollution increase the risk of infectious and vector-borne diseases, and affects food security, hygiene, sanitation, and ecosystem services. Given the interdependence and interconnection of these issues, the GFA WS&WM Department actively promotes collaboration across multiple sectors and disciplines to foster well-being and tackle health and ecosystem threats through integrated development planning and community outreach.

In the second phase of the Water Sector Reform project in Zambia from 2020 to 2022, GFA addressed the challenges of water supply and sanitation by promoting cross-sectoral solutions that advance equitable and holistic outcomes. On behalf of GIZ, GFA WS&WM experts facilitated the integration of One Health principles into District Water Sanitation and Hygiene Investment Plans by balancing the needs and interests of different sectors and groups. The project team explored potential synergies and conflicts among stakeholders competing for resources, and monitored environmental and social impacts of water and sanitation interventions.

In addition to integrated planning, the GFA WS&WM experts also offer comprehensive community outreach packages that promote WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) awareness and practice change. They work with schools and wider communities, using programs such as Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) that focus on social participation. In the mentioned project in Zambia, community members assisted by GFA analyzed their own sanitation practices and realized the negative impacts of open defecation on their health, environment and dignity. This led to collective action towards an improvement of WASH framework conditions.

In the project Water Supply and Sanitation for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda, financed by BMZ through GIZ between 2019 and 2024, GFA WS&WM has contributed to One Health by supporting numerous activities regarding hygiene promotion and awareness raising at the community level. During COVID-19 for example, the installation of group handwashing facilities at schools and health centers in refugee settlements and host communities has enabled the population to practice hygiene measures. As a contribution of this project to One Health, alternative latrine demonstration sites are built to promote latrine construction and tree-planting activities for water source protection. Moreover, GFA WS&WM also supports the rehabilitation of water schemes and sustainable operation and maintenance, which will safeguard sustainable water supply in the long run.

In Tanzania, GFA WS&WM has been implementing the Simiyu Climate Resilience Project - Consulting Services for Management Consultant financed by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) through the KfW Development Bank since 2021. The project aims at increasing the climate resilience of rural and urban households in the Simiyu region by improving policies and regulation for cross-sectoral action towards climate adaptation and by improving water supply, sanitation and agriculture through community-driven approaches by 2025.

2030 Agenda

The projects of the GFA WS&WM Department aim at demonstrating the value and potential of water as a catalyst for positive change across the overall goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and global health. The success stories from the projects mentioned above confirm the company’s belief that applying the One Health approach to WASH issues can create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable future for Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

#OneHealth #WASH #WaterForAll #integratedplanning #GFAPartnership #SDGs