Animal Aid

DON’T SEND A COW : Animal Gifts Don’t Help World’s Poor

Posted 15 November 2006

With the Christmas season fast approaching, aid agencies are once again pressing the public to give money so that farmed animals can be donated to impoverished communities in the “developing” world.

Such schemes, Animal Aid argues, serve only to increase poverty because farming animals is a wasteful, environmentally destructive and expensive way of producing food. All farmed animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, shelter from extremes of weather and veterinary care. Such resources are in critically short supply in much of Africa.

While animal gift schemes attract plenty of media attention and provide an apparent “quick fix” to the problems of world poverty, they ultimately serve only the aid agencies concerned by increasing their public profile.

There are many ways in which such communities can be helped, says the national campaign group. These range from providing appropriate technology to supplying drought-resistant, sustainable crops. Last Christmas, Animal Aid took the lead role in raising £2,000 for a vegetarian orphanage in Kenya. The initiative was at the behest of British charity HIPPO (Help International Plant Protein Organisation) that does invaluable work on the ground in several African countries.

This year, Animal Aid is seeking support for another HIPPO initiative: a tree-planting project in the same rural community as the orphanage - located 10 miles from Nakuru, Kenya’s fourth largest town and the capital of the Rift Valley province. The aim is to plant 2,000 trees that will bear oranges, avocados, mango, pawpaw, kei apple and macadamia nut.

Animal Aid has produced - and posted on its website - a guide to the true cost of donating animals to world’s poorest peoples:

  • £11 sends six chickens to an impoverished area where they can heighten the disease risk and severely damage the immediate environment
  • £125 provides a pair of goats - animals known to cause desertification, thereby reducing the amount of farmland available to local people
  • £750 sends a cow, who will drink up to 90 litres of the villagers' water every single day

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘At Christmas time, people are desperate to make a gesture that will benefit the world’s most vulnerable communities, if only to make us feel better about the relative great wealth the majority of us in the “developed” world enjoy. But while donating animals might make the donor feel good, such gifts simply add to the burden of the impoverished recipients.

‘There are many worthwhile initiatives to help people in “developing” countries that do not involve the exploitation of animals. Animal Aid urges the public this year to boycott all donate-an-animal schemes and support projects that help people, animals and the environment.’

Notes to editor

  • HIPPO has helped to develop the sustainable, organic, production of non-GM crops, especially pulses, in Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia, and has assisted a soya food processing plant in Uganda. It also supports a vegetarian outreach programme in Lagos, Nigeria; and sends high protein, vegetarian foods to orphanages in Romania, Croatia and Kenya, and also to the African Food Bank community project.

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