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  • BACKGROUND INFORMATION
  • Veterinary professionals and para-professionals have to be trained regularly to make them useful with their “scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the: protection of animal health and animal welfare; prevention and relief of animal suffering; conservation of animal resources; promotion of public health and advancement of veterinary medical knowledge. The trained personnel do swear through a veterinary oath to: practice their profession conscientiously; with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. As applicable; they do accept as a lifelong obligation for the continual improvement of their professional knowledge and competence”
    It is thus incumbent upon veterinary and veterinary para-professionals and their employers to seek and refresh, develop their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis to maintain an acceptable standard of professional practice and competence. This can be done through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) documented as a process by which veterinarians acquire, maintain and enhance skills and knowledge with which all practicing veterinarians need to meet the requirements of the Veterinary Council’s CPD framework by undertaking activities relevant to their area of practice. While this is advocated for internationally; some countries have already put processes in place and started while others are in developing stage. As we talk, Uganda is already in process.

      1. The national population, domestic animal resources and wildlife resource, the livestock farming systems and the related veterinary human resource

    The Uganda National Household Survey 2016/17 estimates the population of the country at 37.7 million persons with 75.5% being rural based with the population growing at an average rate of 3.0% per annum. National poverty levels stand at 19.7% with high levels of poverty more prevalent in rural areas. Poverty is highest and more prevalent in the Northern and Eastern Regions of Uganda. The agriculture sector (where livestock belongs) contributes to 23.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with livestock growth at an average of 2.5% per annum but less than that of human population growth. Livestock /animal keeping is popular in the country for economic purposes and need to be encouraged since 52% of all households in the country keep livestock albeit such stakeholders being poor. Livestock products in rural areas contribute to 18% of incomes for households while it contributes to 12% in urban areas. Livestock in Uganda from an IGAD report was re-evaluated and its GDP contribution rose from 1.7% to 3.2% with a real value of 526 Million US$ Dollars. Inadequate animal welfare in Uganda predisposes to disease which is attributed to causing the loss of an estimated 86.3 Million US $ per year in the livestock sub-sector. Therefore - animal welfare and health especially as regards inadequate:training, inputs and outreach services in livestock is a major challenge. Animal welfare  requires national strategic address to enable sustainable improvements in animal health, animal production, food security and livelihoods for the ever increasing human populations as we target the Uganda Vision 2040 to enable households to move from poverty to prosperity as also required by UN-SDA/SDGs, the OIE and the African Union.
    The animal resources for the country are as follows (2016):

    1. Cattle: 14.36 Million,
    2. Goats: 15.31 Million;
    3. Sheep: 4.307 Million;
    4. Pigs: 4.037 Million;
    5. Poultry: 46.29 Million
    6. In 2008; Pets (dogs and cats) were estimated at 0.65 Million;
    7. Donkeys, horses, camels (2018 from DVOs): about 0.08 Million while other estimates vary between 0.03 – 0.5 million.
    8. Rabbits: 0.036 Million
    9. There are also nearly 1millioncolonized bee hives for honey – wax - royal jerry and bee venom among others. Bees also require attention for their welfare to enable survival and production.

    While most cattle, goats, sheep, chicken and donkeys are raised in various Regions where the cattle corridor pass by virtue of semi-aridity of these areas especially in dry periods; livestock including pigs and donkeys are also raised in the two non-cattle corridor areas (with milder and better climate) (Figure 1). The semi-arid parts of the cattle corridor largely use pastoralism and communal livestock keeping. Bee keeping is in all areas in Uganda. Livestock in the non-cattle corridor areas are generally fewer per holding and slightly better cared for in terms of: disease control, feeds and watering problems. In general – Uganda’s livestock resource is at high risk of less production due to constraints in providing them with conducive animal welfare requirements such as: training of veterinary and para-veterinary professionals and other stakeholders in addition to other farm inputs, technical logistics and outreach services.  Fish in ponds are part of domesticated animals and have related animal welfare challenges including pollution.
    Uganda also has a high wildlife resource as fish and reptiles in the many lakes and rivers as not protected areas but regulated as applicable. It also has fish, reptiles and terrestrial wild animals in the 28 listed Protected Wildlife Areas covering different parts of the country excluding zoos. These wild animals are also challenged and thus require related animal welfare services / care and handling like in livestock to perform well in their expected outputs. 

    Veterinary human resource in Uganda was originally used as government workers before 1993 – 1997 policy reforms that saw divestiture – liberalization – privatization and decentralization of especially the grass root veterinary extension services. Such services had earlier provided public animal welfare and health services to the majority poor households. After the reforms; most of these systematic services including the training of veterinary and Para-veterinary professionals collapsed leaving majority poor and rural based farmers stuck. It is no wonder then that the mal-functioning of the public good veterinary services /regulatory in the country in animal welfare – animal health – veterinary public .

    health and food safety has leads to an estimated loss of 86.3 Million US$ per year attributed to diseases in animals in Uganda.
    Below is a table summarizing the number of veterinarians and para-veterinarians in Uganda based on OIE PVS GAP Analysis from 2007 and some updates in 2018 (Table 1)
    Table 1: Number of veterinary and para-veterinary professionals providing animal welfare and health services who need CPD related training courses to boost effectiveness of service delivery


    EMPLOYER

    NUMBER OF VETERINARY PROFESSIONALSIN 2007

    UGANDA VETERINARY ASSOCIATION  - UVA MEMBERS IN GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN 2018

    Central Government

    50

    Local Governments

    322

    Private Practice

    129

    University /Laboratory /Research

    94

    NGOs/Other Business

    76

    Total

    621

    1014 with only 1 University accredited to train vets in Uganda

    Para-veterinary professionals

    1216 Para veterinary professionals in year 2007

    More than 3700as official estimates of Para-vets in 2018. There are about 6 Higher Institutions training para-vets and outputting many per year on the market but with inadequate knowledge – skills – competences in systematic animal welfare and health.

     

    Figure 1: Map of Uganda showing the central shaded area called the Cattle Corridor where livestock is concentrated in its keeping largely using pastoral and communal farming as you head northwards.

    ug_corridor
    The cattle corridor area(Figure 1) is semi-arid in dry periods while the left and right sides of the corridor are more agriculturally conducive. The central and southern parts of the cattle corridor and areas outside the cattle corridor mainly keep livestock using communal grazing, extensive, intensive and peri-urban farming methods.

      1. Animal welfare as related to human kindness – compassion and humane care / handling to minimize unnecessary pain and suffering for maximum animal productivity

    Animals just like us human beings have feelings thus called sentient. With the ability to have feelings; animals thus have physical and psychological needs to be addressed by their owners and or communities in which they are raised. These needs and requirements related to animal husbandry and health are also called animal freedoms. When animal freedoms are given or addressed; they enable animals to survive in nature leading to bio-diversity, attainment of optimum health leading animals to give maximum outputs in their various specialized areas of rearing as related to sustainable household livelihoods. When the 5 Animal Freedoms (5F) below are provided; the animals are said to be in a good state of animal welfare or animal wellbeing. When the 5Fs are provided, their owners or communities are also said to be compassionate – kind – loving and humane to animals. When this is achieved; animals are said not to experience unnecessary pain and suffering; are healthy; output more and qualitative / safe products and provide higher livelihoods for their owners / communities. Animal welfare is actually the building blocks required to attain good animal: health, production and sustainable income earnings by households who depend on animals .Most veterinary professionals, para-veterinary professionals, farmers and other livestock industry value chain stakeholders have inadequate knowledge – skills and competences in the area of animal welfare as a basis for animal health – animal production and sustainable household incomes.
    The five freedoms required to achieve a conducive level of animal welfare status are: 

    1. Freedom from hunger and thirst by animals having ready access to adequate / safe / nutritious: water and feeds to maintain full health and vigor,
    2. Freedom from discomfort by providing animals with appropriate environment including shelter, comfortable and hygienic resting areas /places of stay;
    3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease by prevention of such states and or their rapid diagnosis and treatment;
    4. Freedom to express (most) normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind;
    5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental cruelty and suffering.

    There are animal welfare high risk points along the entire livestock value chain which needsspecific attention to alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering of animals at:

    1. Ordinary farms;
    2. Mill / factory farms;
    3. For working animals;
    4. Animals being transported;
    5. Animals at slaughter;
    6. Stray and street animals;
    7. Animals in emergency situations of: earthquakes, floods, mudslide, civil disturbances; droughts; epidemics among others.
      1. Institutions in Uganda mandated or which are responsible for ensuring animal welfare and protection to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.

    The population of donkeys in Uganda has been estimated to be at 8000 donkeys, majority of these are in Eastern region in districts of Bukwo, kween, Kapchora. In these districts, these donkeys assist in fetching water, carrying heavy loads including food, market goods, even people. Donkeys also exist in other district though just as one or two usually found on farms. Here they help in carrying feeds, fetching water and atimes for easthetic reasons or prestige. In the former, animal welfare concerns are very many including:

    Donkeys in Uganda are mainly kept in North Eastern Uganda where the road network is so poor and thus they offer a cheap alternative means of transport. The districts with a lot of donkeys in the country include Kapchorwa, Kween, Bukwo and Amudat. Donkeys are estimated to be approximately 8000 in the above 4 districts.

    Key donkey welfare issues raised by some of the interviewed donkey owners in Bukwo and Kapchorwa

    Denied treatment. Donkeys are thought to be very resistant to diseases and thus some people ignore them to recover on their own when they get infected. This not only causes suffering but also death of some sick donkeys that are left un treated.Over working and overloading of donkeys. This is a very common practice in all donkey keeping communities in Uganda. Some people believe donkeys have no working limits.

    Donkeys are given or allowed access to little grass/feed. People tend to give more care to other livestock than donkeys that are considered work animals. In most cases good grass is preserved for cattle and the bad/hard one is left for donkeys. some people even deny donkeys drinking water at homes since they are thought to have drunk at the wells when fetchingWounds. Majority of working donkeys in Kapchorwa have wounds around the tail due to lack of or poor harnessing materials used.

    Lack of shelter. Majority of homesteads with donkeys dont have houses for them thus donkeys suffer terribly during adverse weather conditions such as heavy rains, strong winds, too much heat
    Poor method of slaughtering donkeys. Donkeys are hit many times on the head using tree logs before they are slaughtered when they are uncouncious. The hitting causes alot of pain and suffering to the donkey. This practice is carried out on almost every market day in Namalusubcounty, Nakapiripirit district.Thefty. Stealing of donkeys for slaughter is still a common challenge in donkey keeping communities. Stolen donkeys are slaughtered in order to obtain skins from them which are considered to be of a high price value.

    Recommendations/suggestions by the interview

    People should be taught on the importance of treating donkeys and also advised on the drugs to use
    People should be advised on work limits and maximum load a donkey can carry
    People should be advised on how to construct simple shelters or houses for donkeys
    Community policing should be emphasised to minisethefty of donkeys
    poor harnessing causing wounds,

    Donkeys are a major form of transportation of food, fire wood, water in Kween district especially considering that it is a hilly area with a very poor road network. Quite often, women are the major users of these donkeys to transport food and firewood to markets and other urban areas. Veterinary services are available mainly in the larger centers and the rural areas are less well serviced, with very limited or even no mobile clinics, veterinary services are considered too expensive to use. Read About Our Report

     

    The materials include; Dumped polythene, paper, dried soft grass, wood, wood shavings, banana leaves, old tyres of motorbikes and vehicles, old clothes, blankets and bed sheets, plastic bottles, feathery materials and other soft dried fiber, ropes.
    Experience And Training On Designing And Creating Harnesses
    Our team was trained and practiced in the designing and creating of harnesses through the different interactions with colleagues from Kenya as shown below;

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    8th, November, 2017 at Brooke East Africa in Kenya; Dr. Vincent Oloo training our team about the philosophy and activities of Brooke East Africa, donkey welfare concerns in Kenya and challenges in implementing these activities.

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    9th, November, 2017; Dr. Vincent Oloo training our team on handling donkeys, making a good head halter and donkey behavior

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    LEFT: 7th, November, 2017 at The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya; our team was trained in making Harnesses from cheap recycled materials including blankets, ropes, among others. The training also included practical use of these harnesses to prevent injuries and wounds to donkeys MIDDLE: 8th, November, 2017 at Brooke East Africa in Kenya; Dr. Vincent Oloo training our team about the philosophy and activities of Brooke East Africa, donkey welfare concerns in Kenya and challenges in implementing these activities.
    RIGHT: 9th, November, 2017; Dr. Vincent Oloo training our team on handling donkeys, making a good head halter and donkey behavior.

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