The meeting brought together African representatives of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and various NGOs to start the process of developing an African Platform for Animal Welfare. Currently, Africa is the only continent without an OIE Collaborating Centre on Animal Welfare. In addition to our direct sponsorship, we funded the attendance of six staff from projects/partners in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa, choosing staff from across the continent who have strong advocacy experience.
Dr Bojia Endebu of Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia gave an excellent opening introductory presentation, in which he noted the need for a multi-disciplinary team to work creatively to bring about lasting change in animal welfare in Africa. “The Donkey Sanctuary appreciates this AU-IBAR initiative to create a Platform where all parties, including animal owners, local service providers, development organizations, animal welfare charities, the OIE, the CVOs and national animal health and welfare structures, work together to improve the quality of animal lives. This is a new chapter in our endeavours in Africa,” Dr. Endebu said.
We were also praised for leaving The Donkey Sanctuary’s attendance to our African staff and partners and all six of our attendees contributed effectively to the debate. The meeting was considered a success, but this is just the start of a long journey…
Dr Bojia Endebu’s Speech at the First Continental Consultative Stakeholders Conference on Animal Welfare in Africa
Your Honour Professor Ahmed, Director of AU-IBAR, Representatives of Animal Welfare Charities and Development organizations, CVOs across the continent, Ladies and Gentlemen, my warmest greetings from The Donkey Sanctuary Family to you all.
As a citizen of Africa, an Animal Health professional, and a representative of The Donkey Sanctuary, I am pleased and highly honoured to confirm the commitment of the Donkey Sanctuary to work with you all in the development of an African Platform for Animal Welfare.
Collaboration, Compassion and Creativity, are our charity’s core values. The complexity and diversity of animal welfare issues in Africa on one hand, and international compliance requirements on the other, necessitate a multi-disciplinary team working creatively for lasting change. The Donkey Sanctuary appreciates this AU-IBAR initiative to create a Platform where all parties, including animal owners, local service providers, development organizations, animal welfare charities, the OIE, the CVOs and national animal health and welfare structures, work together to improve the quality of animal lives. This is a new chapter in our endeavours in Africa.
Today, trends in globalization, human population growth, food need, changing land use, climate change, and conflict, increase the challenge of protecting the welfare of animals, people, and our environment. Nevertheless, is it very positive that we have come together at this time to put an end to the suffering of animals. We have a big task ahead. Animal welfare is often set against human livelihoods, but the facts do not support this. I am from Ethiopia, a country known for its rich animal resources in Africa. For us, populations of animals in good health and living good lives will help protect our human physical and mental health, will help protect our natural resources, and will secure our future. I hope this also works for you.
Professor Ahmed, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Charities have deep passion and can be strong drivers of animal welfare. However, our role goes beyond helping the needy—beyond treating sick animals, conducting neutering clinics, providing humane euthanasia. The Donkey Sanctuary’s strategy is to link to donkey welfare projects in as many countries with donkeys as possible in order to reach all 50 million of the world’s donkeys and mules. We work with communities across Africa, and we would like to use this experience to link you all in the development of real animal welfare initiatives, to plant these seeds of best practices in animal welfare into the livestock development system.
Animal welfare is a reflection of society ethics. The way we care for our animals forms just part of our joint journey to raise society ethics. It is the sum of the work we all do to raise our own standards of behaviour from within that builds society. Mahatma Gandhi said ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated’.
Animal welfare is an effective instrument for improving standards in the livestock industry. We need to reduce predictable patterns of injury, pathology and disease affecting specific animals in specific situations: these are ultimately unacceptable standard of life for us and animals. And we need to set standards for animal work, production, healthcare, transport, slaughter, trade and tourism; to follow OIE standards on quality of healthcare education. CVOs on the ground remain frontline centre pillar to bring the desired changes in animal welfare. This Platform will help us go beyond delivering health care, to developing real and realistic welfare standards that protect animals.
I am looking forward to the deliberations, to focusing on what we can do together. We are here to explore opportunities and to find creative ways forward.
I may end my goodwill with Henry Ford’s quote: 'Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is a progress, and working together is a success'.
I am the African Union!