The Observatory is a new programme that provides an overview of the uptake of International Standards by WOAH Members.

What is the Observatory?  

Developing international standards for animal health and welfare based on the latest scientific information lies at the heart of our mandate. Our Standards are not legally binding. Yet, when our Members vote for their adoption at the WOAH annual General Session, they commit to translating them into their national legislation.

This being said, the implementation of our Standards at country level can involve challenges, such as the lack of financial, human resources or the relevant infrastructures. As a matter of fact, the extent to which they are put into practice remains unclear. To have an overview of the uptake of international standards by our Members, a new programme has been established: the Observatory

The Observatory is a continuous and systematic mechanism designed to analyse the implementation of our international standards by using information regularly collected by various activities, as well as external sources.  

This monitoring framework will eventually increase engagement of our Members and key stakeholders in the compliance with the Standards. Following a testing phase, the first Observatory outputs will be published in 2022 and the programme is expected to reach full speed in 2025. 

A data-driven approach for improved animal health systems

Today’s digital revolution has opened a whole new world of possibilities to improve the sustainability of animal health systems. At the same time, the need for data has never been greater. Reliable data support national authorities and the international community in risk management and evidence-based decision-making. This is a key asset to build stronger terrestrial and aquatic animal health systems worldwide and achieve improved global health.

The Observatory is a data-driven programme as well as a key component of our digital transformation. The quality of the data provided by our Members and collected from external sources will allow the identification of specific needs for each country and will suggest improvements in the Organisation’s standard-setting process and other relevant activities.

The Observatory also contributes to demonstrate the value of a rule-based international system, in a context where it is challenged. By increasing transparency on the standards’ uptake, the Observatory contributes to the progressive harmonisation of national sanitary rules to protect animal health and welfare as well as international trade. The mechanism will therefore prove beneficial to governments, the private sector and civil society alike.

Why monitor the implementation of Standards?  

To better support our Members in a global context where cross-border issues are becoming increasingly complex, threatening the erosion of trust between trading partners, the Observatory’s reports on how its international standards are put into practice to deliver on our commitment to respond to the needs of our Members.

 Monitoring the implementation of Standards pursues various purposes:

Identifying what challenges our members face to implement the Standards
Supporting members in their efforts to put the Standards into practice
Identifying success stories around the Standards and incentives and promoting the implementation 
Ensuring that the Standards are fit for purpose by taking the findings back into the Standards-setting process
Identifying areas of improvement and proposing solutions to processes or services offered to Members that may not be fully answering their needs

How does the Observatory work?

The Observatory will follow a standardised procedure to accomplish its goals. Tapping into the power of data, the Observatory measures capabilities and performances, carries out analyses and draws conclusions upon the gathered information.

Collecting Data

  • Retrieving data from existing data sets (internal or external)
  • Gathering new, ad hoc data when relevant
  • Cleaning data

Monitoring indicators

  • Selecting indicators
  • Annually measuring indicators and trends
  • Progressively refining indicators

Drawing evidence-based decisions

  • Understanding the challenges faced by our Members in implementing Standards
  • Evaluating the relevance and efficiency of Standards
  • Identifying gaps in the implementation of standards and in the suitability of our processes and services. 
  • Making concrete recommendations

Disseminating information

  • Using data visualisation to present intelligence that can inform decision-making, while preserving confidentiality
  • Encouraging better quality data submission

Rolling out strategies

  • Enhancing the data management system and our services
  • Identifying capacity building needs to strengthen Standards implementation

The Observatory within WOAH

The Observatory is a transversal programme that contributes to the progressive improvement of our activities by providing feedback and suggestions on the data collection and information storage systems. Additionally, it identifies gaps and ways to improve our services and processes.

The data provided by the Observatory will also help monitor how our organisation and donors’ investments meet their goals.

Case study: the Prototype on African swine fever

We collect a large quantity of information from across its different departments. In the pilot phase of the Observatory, several prototypes were developed to identify the best data sources and indicators to gauge the implementation of Standards and transform that data into relevant intelligence.

The last prototype focused on African swine fever (ASF), given the impact of this disease in various regions at multiple levels and for which we, jointly with FAO, have developed a Global Initiative under the GF-TADs‘ umbrella.

The ASF prototype builds on lessons learned from previous studies carried out by the Observatory and provides a critical analysis of the suitability of various groups of indicators for the annual review report, due in late 2022. It also proposes different means to present findings as well as data visualisation.

This prototype consists of the following four documents, that are only available in English:

The following points are the highlights of this ASF prototype:


of our Members have ASF as a notifiable disease at national level, apply surveillance in domestic animals AND have a national Reference Laboratory for ASF


of our Members that have reported the absence of ASF in their country have requested that we publish a self-declaration of ASF freedom


of our Members with a contingency plan for ASF in 2018 have reportred a simulation exercise on ASF in the past 15 years

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