Animal welfare in development cooperation

Sustainable solutions for a healthy coexistence of humans and animals

Animal welfare in development cooperation
© Action for the Protection of Wild Animals

The use of livestock such as goats, sheep, donkeys and cattle is vital for millions of the poorest people worldwide and is promoted by numerous German organisations for development cooperation in the context of poverty reduction. However, many of the animal owners do not have the necessary knowledge to care for the animals entrusted to them according to their needs. Together with the Welttierschutzstiftung, we are working to ensure that animal welfare becomes an integral part of development cooperation.

In many emerging and developing countries in particular, smallholder agriculture is the most important source of income for large sections of the population. Worldwide, 1.5 billion people depend on it. However, productivity and yield in smallholder agriculture usually remain low due to small areas of land as well as small animal herds, thus primarily serving as a means of achieving self-sufficiency. Poverty remains high and thus smallholders account for the majority of the world's hungry people.

Farm animal husbandry in international development cooperation projects

In order to find a way out of poverty and hunger, many people depend on development aid projects from abroad, including Germany. The aim of those involved in development cooperation is to provide support to enable people to become self-sufficient in the long term - and thus find a way out of poverty. Farm animals are also used for this purpose in many of these projects. However, although animal welfare is fundamental to paving the way out of poverty in the long term, animal owners often lack basic knowledge of animal welfare. Poor husbandry conditions and the lack of veterinary care lead to the animals becoming sick and often dying prematurely - the animals‘ lives are marked by suffering. Consequently, the people are denied the desired way out of poverty - because with the loss of their animals, they are again faced with nothing.

Together with the Welttierschutzstiftung, we are working to ensure that greater attention is paid to the welfare of farm animals in development cooperation projects.

Animal welfare in development cooperation

Survey on animal welfare in development cooperation

As part of the “Animal Welfare in Development Cooperation” programme, a survey was conducted in 2019 among 18 globally active non-governmental organisations based in Germany as well as the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ). The survey investigated which actors promote the use of livestock in agricultural projects and asked whether measures ensuring the welfare of the animals are implemented.

The analysis showed that 90 percent of the organisations surveyed use animals in their agricultural projects, but (with one exception) none of the organisations surveyed has specific, mandatory requirements for livestock husbandry - neither for the local project partners nor for the smallholder farmers.

Laying the groundwork for change

The results of our survey suggest that urgent changes regarding animal welfare in agricultural development projects are needed.

We will therefore

  • promote the targeted consideration of the animal welfare of farm animals in German development cooperation and engage in a constructive exchange with representatives of organisations and policymakers: The first event in November 2020 showed that the participating NGOs are very interested in ways to promote animal welfare in their projects. The event focused on possible hurdles in anchoring animal welfare in development cooperation projects, how these can be overcome in the future, and to what extent our partner can provide support in this regard.
  • and set up an information portal in line with the long-term goals of the program, develop animal welfare guidelines for stakeholders in development cooperation and implement pilot projects for their application.

Only if animal welfare is recognised and strengthened as an important component of sustainable development cooperation can animal suffering be prevented and poverty reduction be successful.

Animal welfare on the political agenda

In 2015, the United Nations signed a Treaty for Sustainable Development. This treaty, which comprises 17 sustainable development goals, is to be applied in all member states by 2030. However, animal welfare criteria are not yet mentioned in any of the sustainable development goals, even though animal welfare is an important component of many targets addressed in the treaty. As part of the “Animal Issues Thematic Cluster” (AITC), along with other animal welfare and species conservation organisations, we are campaigning for animal welfare to be taken into account. » (german)

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For more information, please contact:

Dr. Wendy Phillips (Senior Manager Programme)

Tel.: +49(0)30 – 9237226-0
Reinhardtstr. 10
10117 Berlin