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Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:42

Advocacy Spotlight: Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO)

Written by  Jessica Bridgers

This week WAN is highlighting the work of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), an organization working on the ground in India to organize and empower the country’s animal protection movement through advocacy, capacity building, and networking. FIAPO’s Director of Programmes, Varda Mehrotra, was kind enough to take the time to answer our questions.

Cows-Holi-India-smWAN: When and why did FIAPO form?

FIAPO: The initial idea about an Indian federation was discussed in 2007, in the wake of the Asia for Animals conference in Chennai. This is when Indian animal groups/activists met and underlined the need to unify their dreams to make India a better place for animals. FIAPO was formally launched in November 2010, so that Indian animal organisations could speak in a strong voice on behalf of the animals.

FIAPO is not an alternative to existing organisations, but on the contrary, an expression of their strength and an amalgam of their collective expertise and passion.

WAN: How does FIAPO work to foster collaboration among India’s animal protection organizations?

FIAPO: FIAPO has launched and enabled the work of smaller, local federations of animal protection groups with a fixed geographic or thematic focus. We research and contact all existing animal protection groups in a target city. We bring groups and people together to encourage a more unified voice for animals within the region and enable them to network, capacity build and take local, targeted action for animals.

Workshops are also conducted for training and support along with leading animal protection activists to fill the knowledge gaps within organizations.

WAN: What are the most pressing animal protection issues in India currently and how are FIAPO and its member organizations addressing them?

FIAPO: India needs specific attention to curb the ongoing cruelty to animals. For this reason, FIAPO has started campaigns to create awareness and encourage people to treat animals with respect and equality. The campaigns we are running include:

  1. Living Free – Alarming trends of increasing consumption of animal products in India led us to start a national programme to reach out and educate. The focus is on reduction in the consumption of animal products by mobilizing grassroots movement and spreading awareness. The campaign focuses on conducting outreach to consumers to make behavioural change happen.
  2. Farm to Freedom – Animal Farming conditions are worsening, including the increased proposals for factory farmed dairies. Billions of birds are already suffering in intensive conditions on poultry farms. To prevent - and remove where possible – worsening conditions for farmed animals, this is a campaign to raise a collective voice against the rise of factory farms. Here the focus is to improve the life of farmed animals by regulation, direct action and education.

WAN: What victories for India’s animals would not have been possible without collaboration between FIAPO and its member groups?

FIAPO: FIAPO has been determined to better the lives of animals all across India by collaborating with organizations, activists and other stakeholders. We strive to run every campaign and project collaboratively, so we are stronger for animals. Some of the examples of our successes have been listed below;

  1. Legal Challenge to Battery Cages – a public interest litigation has been filed by FIAPO which seeks to bring an end to the use of battery cages for egg-laying hens in India. This has been the culmination of the work of a number of collaborators and colleagues in India.
  2. Ending Dolphinaria – as a result of rigorous advocacy and public engagement, FIAPO achieved victory when the Ministry of Environment and Forests prohibited the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.
  3. IFFCO Mega Dairy – FIAPO lobbied and successfully prevented the establishment of a mega-dairy by IFFCO-Fonterra in Andhra Pradesh, which was to house 40,000 cows at a single location.
  4. India for Animals – created a national platform for the Indian animal community to gather, learn and motivate.

WAN: If you could offer just one piece of advice on successful collaborative working for animal protection, what would it be?

FIAPO: There is really no magic wand. Loads of patience, lots of discussion and advice from others who have walked similar paths, and an indomitable confidence that this is the right way to go is what has worked for us.

So we would suggest to others keen to go this way, to embark upon the enterprise with these factors in mind.

WAN: WAN is very interested in FIAPO’s ‘Movement Building’ work. Please could you explain a little about the background to this, and why you feel it’s an important part of your federation’s work?

FIAPO: FIAPO’s main aim is to connect various animal protection organisations and activists across India in order to build a strong animal protection movement. While there can be strong individual organisations, the overall wellbeing of animals is unlikely to improve until the capability of a large number of groups spread all over the country is also improved. Therefore we devote a portion of our resources and time to “movement building”. There are a number of ways in which this is done.

  • Setting up of local federations for spread of knowledge, support and information to small organisations and activists in their areas. Examples of these are J-FAPO (Jaipur Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations), P-FAPO (Pune Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations) and K-FAPO (Kerala Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations).
  • Trainings and workshops are conducted to maximize the potential of all organisations, and to simultaneously add sustainability and growth to the animal protection movement in India.
  • India for Animals (IFA) is a national conference organized by FIAPO approximately once in about 18 months. This is a great medium to provide fellowship to activists and organisations. Typically our colleagues work in relative isolation, sometimes face social rejection, and are faced with extremely rough and often insurmountable challenges each day. The IFA is a great medium for animal people to feel connected to each other, find inspiration and also learn practical skills for helping animals.
  • Social media and the Internet is being increasingly leveraged to help connect, motivate and capacitate the Indian animal community.

Photo credit: "post-Holi cleanup" by Ryan, used under CC BY 2.0

About the WAN Blog

The WAN blog allows us to share our expertise in the fields of policy, science, communications, management, and more in a manner that animal protection organizations can easily incorporate into their everyday work for animals. The blog also provides the opportunity to highlight important work of individual organizations and campaigns, and allows researchers, experts, and others outside of WAN to provide useful information to the animal protection community. 

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