No country’s development should take place without giving full consideration to the situation and welfare needs of the sentient fellow animals which share human territory, homes, work, livelihoods, leisure and lives. Development is not just economic. Most importantly, it is about well-being and quality of life – it’s about flourishing: For people, nature and animals.
In addition to ethical and altruistic concerns for the well-being of animals, there are many human-centric reasons for including animals and their welfare in development. Animal welfare is inextricably linked to animal health, which is clearly important in many development programs (including disease control, as well as animal production). Moreover, there are many additional benefits to including animal welfare in relevant development programs, and these positively impact many key areas of development concern, such as:
- Poverty reduction;
- Sustainable livelihoods;
- Disaster/emergency response work;
- Agriculture/livestcok/fisheries and rural development; and
- Health/safety (including food safety and security).
Some of these are explained in more detail in the World Animal Net (WAN) paper on Animal Welfare & Development.
As regards food production, animal welfare is now of considerable importance to consumers of animal products. Food quality is not only determined by the overall nature and safety of the end product but also by the perceived welfare status of the animals from which the food is produced. The fact that improving the animal’s welfare can positively affect product quality, pathology and disease resistance also has a direct bearing on food quality and safety.
Moreover, there is now an international policy framework specifically covering animal welfare - with a rapidly growing body of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) international animal welfare standards and regional strategies. These now need to be implemented in developing countries, as well as the rest of the world. This is unlikely to happen (with so many diverse problems to tackle) unless it is included in development policy and planning. Many international development organizations (and regional economic communities) are collaborating partners of the OIE, and could have a massive beneficial impact if they mainstreamed animal welfare in their development work and programs. Indeed, some of these organizations are already working on the development of animal welfare, as are many individual countries, businesses and development banks.
WAN’s website contains background information and analysis on the subject of animal welfare and development, including: