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Areas where Animal Welfare is Needed in Development

International Development

WAN has identified the need for Animal Welfare to be included in development policy, planning and practice in the following ways:

  • The introduction of Animal Welfare impact assessments – to ensure that any planned projects do not adversely impact Animal Welfare
  • The mainstreaming of Animal Welfare – to include the proactive development of Animal Welfare. This would mean the inclusion of Animal Welfare in national development policies and planning, and the introduction of programs to support implementation (including the national implementation of Regional Animal Welfare Strategies and international standards, as well as any additional national policies)
  • The provision of Best Practice resources on Animal Welfare for development stakeholders.

When assessing the approach to be taken on animal use in international development, WAN considers that this should follow the principles elaborated in the ‘Three Rs’ (3Rs) – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement. These were originally drafted to provide valuable guidance for the use of animals in science, and are now internationally recognized – and included in the OIE’s Guiding Principles for Animal Welfare. However, there is no logical reason why they should not be applied to all commercial uses of animals, particularly where there is doubt that all the welfare needs of the animals can be met. The wording would need to be slightly amended for wider use, but the principles remain the same:

  • Reduction - in numbers of animals used.
  • Refinement - of methods and conditions of use/keeping.
  • Replacement - of animals with non-animal alternatives.
  • With replacement always being the ultimate objective.

There is more on the general applicability of the 3Rs in the WAN blog on Livestock and Development, which provides an example relating to the use of animals for food. This blog also covers some of the many reasons why intensive farming/aquaculture systems should not be promoted or supported in development. These are inherently bad for animal health and welfare; are resource inefficient; and have known detrimental impacts affecting human health and welfare, the environment, and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. They are simply not suitable for poverty alleviation programs in developing countries because they involve high-tech systems which require specialist management and maintenance, high inputs (feed, medicines and pharmaceuticals), and are low on labor. There is more information on this in the World Society for the Protection of Animals (now World Animal Protection) publication on “Industrial Animal Agriculture: Part of the Poverty Problem”. Intensive systems also use large quantities of antimicrobials, raising concerns about growing antimicrobial resistance. Livestock are also a major contributor to Greenhouse Gases which cause climate change.

Humane and Sustainable agriculture is now universally accepted as a sustainable and beneficial development. This is clearly better for animal welfare, and can be achieved without compromising food security – as set out in this well-researched report: Food Security and Animal Welfare.

National Development

There are a number of areas where Animal Welfare should be included in national development, in order to progressively develop Animal Welfare, and to implement international standards and regional strategies. Some examples are given below:

  • Animal Welfare Policy/Strategy

A national policy/strategy on animal welfare to provide the government with greater detail on the ethical basis of its animal welfare work, and chart a course that it can follow for the proactive development of measures to improve animal welfare and educate and inform stakeholders and citizens. 

  • Government Structures and Enforcement Systems

Plans to develop government structures and enforcement systems which are able to deal effectively with animal welfare policy administration and enforcement. These will need to identify the lead government department and bodies to be involved in enforcement; formulate plans to develop an effective animal welfare committee; establish what more is needed to strengthen systems, procedures and staffing – including expertise/training; and funding provisions for animal welfare policy, programs, education and enforcement.

  • Knowledge and Skills on Animal Welfare

Plans to improve knowledge and skills on animal welfare where most needed, e.g.: drivers of change (including OIE Delegates and AW Focal Points), policy officials, enforcement officers, veterinarians, animal owners and keepers, farmers/farmers groups, traders, transporters and handlers. This would include building national animal welfare science programs and capacity building/training and guidance for animal welfare; and could be carried out in conjunction with extension services, development partners and NGOs.

  • Education and Awareness

Incorporation of humane education/animal welfare education into existing school programs; the development of animal welfare in further and higher education (for example veterinary universities and agricultural colleges); and the development of clear consumer information, and communication and public awareness strategies for the broader public (including through mass media). 

  • Mainstreaming Animal Welfare

Integration of animal welfare into relevant sectoral and cross sectoral policies and programs (including poverty reduction, livelihoods, agriculture and fisheries, transport, trade, science and research, health/safety, rabies control and environment).

  • Research and Development

Collection and dissemination of good practice: pilot projects, case studies and research (within and outside of the region) – thus facilitating the application of nationally appropriate best practice. This should include the collection and use of indigenous knowledge on animals and animal welfare. 

  • Monitoring and Evaluation

Systems for monitoring and evaluation of progress with the implementation of animal welfare legislation, including robust systems for monitoring compliance with animal welfare legislation (which would include OIE standards). Also, mechanisms to monitor enforcement and collate feed-back on animal welfare problems (for corrective action on the root of problems).

In the case of developing countries, these interventions should be supported by international development organizations.

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