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Animal Welfare and Development


In WAN's newest report, we explore animal welfare in the context of international development—where are development organizations falling short and what can be done to ameliorate the situation before it is too late.

A summary of the report can be found below, or you can download the entire report. 

Animal Welfare and Development: Potential Roles and Responsibilities of Multilateral Development Organisations, Financial Institutions and Governments (PDF 420KB)

Also, read our related blog posts on Animal Welfare and Development and Livestock and Development!


Development will not be balanced or sustainable if important aspects such as animal well-being, and human-animal relationships, are not included in development programmes. There are a myriad of reasons why no country’s development should take place without giving full consideration to the situation and welfare needs of our fellow sentient animals. These reasons cover a range of different issues, including: ethical concerns, human and animal health, poverty reduction; agriculture/livestock/fisheries and rural development; sustainable livelihoods; health/safety (including food safety and security); biodiversity/environment; and disaster/ emergency response work.

There are now a number of international policy frameworks covering animal welfare, with multilateral agencies, financial institutions and multinational companies adopting animal welfare policies and standards. These include a growing body of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) international animal welfare standards, and regional animal welfare strategies; which now need to be implemented in developing countries, as well as in the rest of the world. There is also an increased political awareness and acceptance of the need for improved animal welfare in developing countries and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and some development partners have already begun to include animal welfare in their broader mandates.

However, some development organisations are still promoting and encouraging intensive livestock and aquaculture systems in developing countries, despite the known detrimental impacts affecting animal and human health and welfare, the environment, resource use, and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers; and some continue to support and encourage the consumptive use of wildlife, despite the impact this is having on wildlife populations. Others support development programmes such as infrastructure, road building and land use changes which can adversely impact animals and their habitats.

Furthermore, most international development organisations have made no attempt to include the proactive development of animal welfare as part of a country’s national development; and many have carried out programmes in areas affecting animals with little or no consideration of the impact on their welfare. This has left animal welfare lagging behind other social issues; lacking in both political importance and practical progression.

This paper stresses the urgent need to mainstream animal welfare in development. The potential for relevant development institutions (those already involved in international development) to play a vital role in this process is examined, and examples provided. There is much work to be done in this regard, so clear priorities need to be determined, and an effective path charted. The areas of research and veterinary and agricultural extension have been highlighted as of particular importance. An international meeting on ‘Animal Welfare and Development’ is suggested as a priority. Commitments from individual organisations need to be elicited, and backed up by concrete work plans. This work should be undertaken both in conjunction with regional animal welfare strategies (harnessing expertise and support for these) and through the routine inclusion of animal welfare aspects in all relevant development work.

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