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16–17 June: Uganda’s first National Animal Welfare Workshop, co-organised and funded by WSPA, provided food for thought on a range of animal welfare issues affecting wild, farm, companion and laboratory animals.
Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Education, the livestock industry, Kampala’s Makerere University and Veterinary Association and lecturers from vocational agricultural training institutes were invited to the workshop, held in Kampala.
The discussions covered issues including the inhumane killing of stray dogs and the cruel transport and slaughter methods used on farm animals, in particular cattle.
WSPA’s involvement sprang from locally identified need; the meeting was initiated by Professor Kabasa, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University, and member society the Uganda Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (USPCA).
They sought a forum to discuss welfare issues, convinced that animal welfare is not adequately covered within the veterinary curriculum at present and not understood widely by Ugandans.
A powerful film produced by the USPCA showed the high level of suffering experienced by farm animals on their way to slaughter; everyone agreed that these methods are inhumane, unnecessary and that should improve.
The group identified obstacles to achieving change, including a lack of enforcement of existing transport and slaughter regulations – resulting in the suffering of hundreds of thousands of animals – and widespread corruption.
Dr. Olaho-Mukani, Director of Animal Resources of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, provided a powerful overview of current ministry activities that will increase the importance of animal welfare. For example, export opportunities to the European Union increase when animal welfare standards are higher – a significant incentive.
Jasmijn de Boo, WSPA’s London-based Education Programmes Manager, presented the Concepts in Animal Welfare syllabus – developed by the University of Bristol and WSPA – and demonstrated how animal welfare is integrated within veterinary curricula worldwide.
Then staff from WSPA Africa, based in Tanzania, explained how Concepts in Animal Welfare is used in Kenya and Tanzania, which provoked agreement on the need to integrate animal welfare science within the formal curricula of the Makerere Veterinary Faculty.
One outcome of the workshops was the creation of a small team that have begun to analyse the current provisions within the veterinary curriculum, in order to make recommendations on where animal welfare subjects could be introduced.
WSPA will continue to work with Makerere University and the USPCA. It was agreed by workshop participants that similar interdisciplinary meetings should be held in the future, with the goal of pushing animal welfare up the political and educational agenda and strengthening legislation and improving enforcement.