Livestock markets in Tanzania
More empathy for “commodity” animals
The animal welfare situation at many of Tanzania's markets is dramatic. Despite the existing animal welfare laws, cows, sheep, goats and other farm animals suffer from brutal transportation methods, abuse and neglect of their basic needs (food, water, protection from the sun). Together with the local Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO) we improve animal welfare in Central Tanzania and the coastal region.
The suffering of the animals starts already during loading, as truck beds are insufficiently secured, which leads to injuries during transportation. At arrival on the market, the hundreds-of-kilo-heavy cattle is violently forced to jump off the trucks - there are no ramps. With their legs tied together, sheep and goats are forced to stay in the same position for hours. Without food, water and shelter, the animals are exposed to the sun for up to 10 hours, which leaves them dehydrated and severely weakened.
Focusing on animal welfare
Together with TAWESO we have made it our mission to improve conditions for cattle, sheep, goats and chicken on these markets. In collaboration with relevant governmental agencies as well as inspectors, vets, and even retailers, we improve these animals’ well-being on the markets as well as during transportation and slaughter.
On the livestock markets…
Our project started in 2018, focusing on 20 markets sites, at which we built wells along with feeding and drinking stations. Additionally, animal welfare awareness of animal owners, buyers and carriers was raised through one-to-one conversations and distribution of flyers on 48 markets in total. The flyer was created in cooperation with TAWESO and uses simple pictures and language to explain the correct handling of animals as well as their needs, such as the provision of food, water, shelters and veterinary care. Additionally, the flyer explains the current animal welfare laws as of 2008 and names the internationally recognized five freedoms for animal welfare to provide an understanding about animal appropriate care. The contents of the flyer are also displayed on large billboards across the markets.
Thanks to the increased awareness, loading and unloading is now conducted in a controlled manner, with ramps for the animals that facilitate getting on and off the truck beds. As a further result of our educative work, some markets are actually being completely re-structured to meet animal welfare standards.
After seeing these successes, we have now extended our project to another 52 additional markets. This means our informational materials will reach 100 out of the overall 162 markets in the country. All these markets will be visited regularly to ensure the animal welfare measures are met and to provide veterinary care if needed. If animals require veterinary care while we’re there, we provide them with first aid, vaccinations and vitamin and mineral supplements. Furthermore, at two of the bigger markets (one in central Tanzania and one in the coastal region) an exemplary ramp and water trough have been put up. They are meant to be used as models for further ramps and troughs and show anyone visiting, how simple it is to meet animal needs.
In the first year of working together with TAWESO we tackled animal welfare problems on 20 markets in Central Tanzania. On each market a well was built and feeding grounds and drinking places were installed. Continous controls ensure that existing laws and requirements are met.
Also, through the use of information material such as posters, but primarily through personal conversation, we called upon people's awareness for animal welfare which actually led to improvements in transportation. Loading and unloading are now conducted in a controlled manner and there are ramps for the animals that facilitate getting on and off loading areas. After succeeding there, we extended the project to ten further markets in the coastal region. We talked to those responsible about problems in animal welfare that come up on the market and during loading and transportation. We visit all 30 markets on a regular basis and ensure that the measures as agreed upon are fulfilled.
As the animals often have to endure up to 1,000 km in the truck when travelling from and to the different markets, practical workshops were held for the workers at the most important transport check-points in central Tanzania in 2018 and 2019. During the workshops the workers were given information on the basic criteria for animal-appropriate transportation: The optimal loading density, adequate set-up of the truck bed, appropriate handling of animals lying on the ground as well as the provision of water and food during stopovers. To ensure that the quality of these control checks stays the same, TAWESO regularly holds training sessions and inspections at the check-points.
This approach has been successful so far: The now regularly inspected trucks are not overloaded anymore and animals are adequately secured – which means less and less injured animals have been encountered. The majority of animals has also been provided with water and food by the drivers. Therefore, we have extended this approach as well and are now talking with staff at all check-points in the country.
TAWESO additionally runs patrols along the main transport route – a 1,400km long road running across the whole country from Lake Victoria to the city of Dar es Salaam. The vehicles at check-points, loading stations, resting areas and railway sidings are examined to see if animal welfare aspects are met and the animals have access to water and food.
... as well as before slaughter.
Together with TAWESO we are also active at Tanzania's biggest livestock market in Dar es Salaam. More than 1,000 cows and 500 sheep and goats are slaughtered there per day to be sold to the local communities. Animals are often slaughtered without anaesthesia, despite the requirement in the Animal Welfare Act of 2008. Through conversations with the people responsible for the here located 20 slaughterhouses, our partners are actively working towards the binding implementation of use of anaesthesia prior to slaughter. Informational material put up in the slaughterhouses reaches workers handling the animals and helps to improve the conditions for the animals.
Collaboration with governmental agencies
The largest markets for farm animals are under governmental supervision, which is why we try to focus on a close partnership with governmental agencies. A first workshop with a total of 40 people responsible for markets was organised by the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries. TAWESO pointed out predominant problems in animal welfare and how they could be solved easily. More workshops are already being planned. Furthermore, the national veterinary service managed to come to an agreement with the local police in our name, which means the police will also include animal welfare checks during their regular traffic patrols. Our partner TAWESO will be responsible for educating the police on this matter.
Together we are on the right path to improve the living conditions of livestock all over Tanzania, so that hopefully soon animals are no longer regarded as commodities, but as living beings.