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