African governments urged to include animals in policy-making

African Presidents (Credit: African Union)

The World Animal Protection organisation is running a global campaign christened, “Animals in Disaster”, which asks African governments to include animals in the formulation of their policies.

According to Dr Judy Kimaru, the disaster manager for Africa at the organisation, “the national government should allocate at least five per cent of the National Disaster Management Policy Fund to cater for animals”.

This, she argues, is because animals are also affected in times of disaster. As a common practice, disaster management funds are allocated for human beings with livestock being sneaked into the budget under miscellaneous allocations.

“Through proper budgeting and legislation on animal protection, animals can be taken care of effectively and appropriately,” Dr Kimaru says.

The organisation is working with the Kenya Government to review the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals Act, developed in 1958.

In Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, the firm is developing standards to guide farming systems to ensure proper shelter, breeding, nutrition and poultry feeding.

Last month, the firm held a conference at the Kenya National Theatre, Nairobi, to sensitise stakeholders in the animal health industry, county and national government officials on how to keep animals under proper welfare conditions and the proper legislation for this.

The event titled, “Change for Chickens”, focused on the distress the birds undergo in the entire production chain, owing to the current growing demand in the meat industry.

Sixty-billion chickens are raised for consumption globally each year. Two thirds of them live in overcrowded sheds or cages, often with no natural light or fresh air, unable to peck or spread their wings. Due to their overgrown size and the speed at which they are raised, many suffer painful lameness, overworked hearts and lungs and wounds, including skin sores, and burns.

As a result of these health problems, factory-farmed chickens’ spend much of their life sitting down.

An industrial shed can hold tens of thousands of chickens. Most sheds are so densely packed that in the last week of a chicken’s life, each bird lives in an area smaller than an A4 piece of paper.

This makes it difficult for them to move around or behave naturally. Many are disturbed by other birds while trying to rest. Though food and water may be provided, there are few opportunities for birds to perch, forage, explore and dust bathe.

Humane animal farming ensures that animals live longer, healthier and enjoy more active lives.

World animal protection organizations partner with governments, farmers, consumers and businesses to show that humane farming can be sustainable and profitable.

The firm helps companies and farmers to adopt methods that discourage close confinement of animals.

The organisation also helps in animal population management, through education and improved legislation in the industry, registration and identification of animals, sterilisation, holding facilities and rehoming centres.

They help governments to design a suitable programme, monitor and evaluate progress by using the model provided in the document, “Humane Dog Population Management Guidance,”.

By reviewing legislation, the countries will be able to create a roadmap for change, helping to protect billions of animals worldwide. What is more, through improved legislation, countries will help their people, too.

Treating animals well can improve public health, fight poverty, tackle climate change and protect the biodiversity of our planet. However, it is only through strong legislation that the long term benefits in humane animal health and production can be achieved.