Small Livestock Producers
Livestock production has an important role in preventing global undernourishment and starvation. Food derived from livestock contributes more than 30% of mankind’s protein intake and 40% of agricultural gross domestic product. In addition, livestock production creates jobs for more than a billion destitute persons. Nonetheless, small livestock producers are often very impoverished and 70% of the world depends on the health of their animals for survival. The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVmed) is an organization that helps small livestock producers to rise out of poverty and earn a living by raising healthy animals.

A Vision to Assist Impoverished Farmers

Although livestock production supports more people than any other activity, providing food, clothing and income, producers in developing countries tend to own just a few animals and are in danger of falling below the poverty line. For example, in Nigeria, on average, a small farmer in a family of six owns a one-half acre of land with around seven Tropical Livestock Units (TLU) composed of chickens, cattle, goats or pigs. A TLU is a unit of measurement for an animal feeding operation that assigns a number to each type of animal. Furthermore, in Tanzania, a small livestock producer typically owns up to four cattle, five goats and 11 chickens. Nearly half of these farmers subsist on less than $1.25 daily. GALVmed helps small producers in Africa and South Asia maintain their livestock’s health to prevent the loss of animals to disease.

Founded in the United Kingdom in 2004 by the Animal Health Programme, GALVmed received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department of International Development based in London. GALVmed’s goals are to develop and provide vaccines as well as other health tools and medical diagnostics for diseases that harm impoverished farmers’ livestock. Since 2008, GALVmed has received $215 million in donor funding for programs that provide economically sustainable aid for livestock health.

Providing Affordable Vaccines

Typically, livestock vaccines are very affordable and extremely effective. One example is the vaccine for East Coast Fever. At around $7 per dose, one shot of the vaccine protects a cow for its entire life. Moreover, Newcastle Disease is a global poultry illness that can rapidly decimate more than three-quarters of a farmer’s flock, yet just one dose of the vaccine, which costs two cents, protects a chicken whose eggs will help feed a family and contribute to a farmer’s earnings. In addition, another GALVmed program works to fight diseases, such as African swine fever and tick-borne illnesses that can eradicate an entire herd of animals, leaving the producer’s family without food.

Preventing Diseases Zoonotic Diseases

An additional benefit of vaccinating livestock is the prevention of zoonotic diseases, illnesses that can transfer from animals to humans. Scientists now believe that three out of every four new human infectious diseases derive from animals. GALVmed addresses several previously ignored zoonotic diseases that affect small livestock producers in South Asia and Africa. One example is brucellosis, a disease that attacks people who have exposure to infected goats, cattle and pigs or who consume “contaminated dairy products. “More than half a million new human cases occur each year, and often, farmers must euthanize the infected animals to stop the spread of disease.

Unfortunately, every year, small livestock producers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa lose around $500 million due to brucellosis infections. To reduce the harsh impact of the disease, the organization provides testing and vaccination kits. Moreover, another disease GALVmed combats is a global poultry virus called fowlpox that results in reduced growth rate and egg production. Again, a timely vaccine can prevent this devastating illness.

With support from donors, GALVmed continues its lifesaving work in eliminating livestock diseases and ensuring that small livestock producers can support their families, resulting in reduced poverty around the world.

– Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr

Crop Pests and DiseasesThe global climate is changing and food demands are increasing. As a result, the threat of crop pests and diseases could mean widespread hunger, especially for at-risk populations. The nature of many agricultural pests and pathogens compound this problem as they are widespread, highly specified and difficult to detect.

Containment of these diseases can only occur once the diseases become detectable. By this stage, the damage has already affected significant amounts of crops beyond the point of recovery and containment. One disease alone can cause financial losses in the hundreds of millions. A single outbreak of Karnal bunt fungus in North Texas caused a $250 million loss in revenue in 2001.

More Food, More Pests?

The world’s food supply faces increased biological threats due to climate change, increased travel between countries and increases in large-scale food production. The need for food increases each year as well, with a predicted 9 billion people in need by 2050. Mass agriculture of staple crops, such as wheat, rice, palm, cassava and various fruit and vegetables, face dangers unique to each crop:

  • Cassava Mosaic Virus: This virus leads to s-shaped stalks, stunted plant growth and low yields.
  • Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle: The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (X. glabratus) spreads a fungus called Raffaelea Lauricola that kills redbay and avocado trees, effectively starving their pollinators.
  • Wheat Rust: This fungus is caused by Puccinia triticina (Brown Leaf Rust) and it reduces wheat kernel yield and size. It is a prolific spreader that is present in major wheat-growing sites worldwide.
  • Citrus Greening: This virus is rampant in the southeastern parts of the U.S. as well as in citrus and other orchards worldwide. As of 2019, the disease has reduced Florida citrus production by 75%.

Additionally, the loss of staple foods to crop pests and diseases can contribute to livestock malnutrition. Roughly 36% of the world’s crops are grown for feeding livestock. In some developing countries, these animals are essential to meeting a minimum caloric intake. Thus, famine in developing countries can commonly be exacerbated by a secondary loss in crop-dependent food supplies, such as cattle or goats.

However, a potential solution to the malnutrition of both humans and livestock lies in an unforeseen place.

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

dog’s sense of smell is consistently strong, with some odors detectable in parts per trillion. The scent abilities of the world’s four-legged canine friends have an ancient history of benefits. This includes successful applications in hunting, national security, border patrol, medicine and agriculture. This skill also makes dogs well suited for training in detecting crop pests and diseases.

Dogs have a particular knack for new scents, described as a form of neophilia. “This technology is thousands of years old – the dog’s nose; we’ve just trained dogs to hunt new prey: the bacteria that causes a very damaging crop disease,” says U.S. Department of Agriculture Researcher Timothy Gottwald.

Agricultural scientists approve of this new application (detection of crop pests and diseases) of a canine’s olfactory system. Equally important to note is the cost-saving potential of training dogs over traditional identification and lab processing as money is a pivotal issue in developing countries when eradicating crop diseases.


Food security, the increase in crop pests and diseases and the costs of testing for agricultural diseases is a dynamic problem combination in need of unique solutions. To date, dogs have been successful in identifying crop diseases such as clubroot, wheat rust and citrus greening. The sensory abilities of dogs also show promise in early and accurate detection. These early successes imply that training canine companions can be a worthwhile and life-saving venture for millions of food-insecure people in the future.

Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr

African vulture poisoningOf the 22 unique species of vultures, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UCN) categorizes over two-thirds as near threatened, threatened, endangered or critically endangered. Seven of the 11 African vulture species are endangered or critically endangered. Vultures face a variety of threats across Africa, including direct and indirect poisoning due to poaching and human-wildlife conflict. However, African vulture poisoning does not just affect the birds themselves; it also affects human populations.

Decline of African Vultures

In just three generations, populations of endangered African vultures have plummeted by more than 80%. Because females may only lay a single egg in two years and hatchlings don’t reach sexual maturity for at least five years, this population trend may bring several species of African vultures to the brink of extinction.

Vultures play an important role in their natural environment. They can consume over two pounds of meat per minute, making them the most effective of all vertebrate scavengers. Their acidic stomachs allow them to consume diseased animal carcasses without any harm to themselves. This unique function makes vultures essential for recycling matter in an ecosystem as well as reducing the spread of diseases like anthrax, rabies and tuberculosis and bacteria.

Vultures also prevent other scavengers from spreading disease. For example, in 2006, vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal fed on diseased cows treated with an anti-inflammatory medication. This led the vulture population to decline by 96%. Further, the population decline led to an increased population of carrion-eating feral dogs, causing human rabies contraction to skyrocket. This led to approximately 48,000 human deaths.

African Vulture Poisoning in a Human Society

African vulture poisoning, intentional or not, happens more than one might think. An interdisciplinary study conducted by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) out of the University of Maryland (UMD) by researcher Meredith Gore and collogues from organizations including the Peregrine Fund and the Endangered Wildlife Trust made this clear.

The researchers focused on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) in southern Africa. They found that farmers there use herbicides and pesticides as poisons. The chemicals they use often contain substances known to pose environmental and human health risks. However, farmers lace water and dead animals with these poisons to kill large predators that attack their livestock. Some also target large herbivorous animals like elephants that may trample or otherwise damage their crops. Although outside the intended purview of these poisons, vultures die as a result of consuming the victims after they die.

The researchers also found intentional African vulture poisoning by poachers, predominantly in eastern Africa. Circling vultures can signal the death of a protected animal to law enforcement, so poachers may lace a carcass with poison to kill the birds as a self-protective measure. More than 500 vultures may feed on and die from a single poisoned elephant carcass. Gore and her collogues believe that a solution to African vulture poisoning will rely on collaboration between local agencies, non-profits and science and criminology experts. They propose several measures to reduce poisoning.

Ending African Vulture Poisoning

First, the researchers recommend increasing efforts to stop African vulture poisoning. These may include licensing and certification of the sale of chemicals used to poison vultures, campaigns to raise awareness on safe handling and disposal of chemicals and diligent tracking of chemical movements. They also recommend increasing the risks associated with intentional African vulture poisoning. This could include creating a phone number and reward system to alert authorities to vulture poisoning and aiding local organizations’ abilities to enact preventative vulture poisoning measures.

Furthermore, the researchers suggest reducing rewards related to vulture poisoning. This could mean withholding livestock and crop damage compensation when farmers poison vultures. Similarly, the researchers endorse provocation reduction measures like education about non-poisonous measures of human-wildlife conflict resolution. They do note, however, that the underlying socioeconomic issues linked to African vulture poisoning include poverty, food insecurity and resource deficits. This means that solving poverty may be key to ending African vulture poisoning. 

The Future of African Vulture Poisoning

Gore and her colleagues also believe that governments should minimize valid excuses for poison use. This may include creating cheap or free chemical disposal programs and responsible corporate buy-back schemes. These would operate in addition to publicized national and regional poison response plans. Finally, the researchers encourage increasing incentives to conserve vultures by prioritizing local conservation efforts that are culturally appropriate and account for traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Without intervention, vulture population decline will lead to the spread of disease and disrupted food chains, both of which have far-reaching ecological and human-health consequences. Fortunately, scientists, criminology experts, community groups, governments and non-profits have a myriad of ways to inspire engaging and effective solutions to reducing African vulture poisoning. By doing so, they will reduce the spread of disease that plagues many African countries.

Avery Saklad
Photo: Unsplash

Pets in Poverty
The numbers of medical supplies and resources are always falling short in impoverished nations. With an exceedingly high demand for hospital necessities such as surgical tools, disinfectants, bandages and more, these necessities often overshadow the needs of proper health care for pets. Governments in developing countries often do not have enough resources to allocate the necessary funds to help keep pets healthy and safe. Many local administrations will often resort to inhumane methods to control the large population of roaming animals, such as shooting, poisoning or drowning. Therefore, many animal rescue organizations provide the necessary means and tools to aid these pets in poverty. Here are three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty.

3 Animal Rescue Organizations Helping Pets in Poverty

  1. SPCA International: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is one of the leading nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the world. One of the most important programs SPCA International is working on is the spay and neuter procedures for animals in developing countries. Spaying and neutering are important for the quality of life for pets in poverty because many owners often abandon or give away any pets that have a chance of reproducing in fear of financial burden or neglect. SPCA International supports local organizations in countries with limited resources by providing cash grants through its Shelter Support Fund and veterinary tools through its Veterinary Supply Aid program. Additionally, it provides information and awareness about the ethics and importance of spaying and neutering. Local organizations, in turn, take the resources that the SPCA International provides to set up free or low-cost clinics and campaigns so that people can access the necessary health care for their pets. These low-cost campaigns are incredibly important for pets in poverty because there are little to no veterinary clinics able to provide accessible and cost-efficient health care in many regions. By supporting these spay and neuter campaigns, SPCA International continues to strive to reduce suffering and death for millions of animals.
  2. Animal Aid Unlimited: Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) emerged in India in 2002. Its goal is to rescue and treat animals that people find on the street and are in need of medical attention. The organization runs an animal rescue center in India that doubles as a hospital and sanctuary for street animals. It found worldwide popularity by connecting its rescues and treatments through social media. AAU has more than 5.39 million subscribers on YouTube. The organization documents its rescues and medical treatment operations in short videos that often start out with anguishing undertones but end with a happy and healthy pet. The organization helps heal many of the pets in poverty left on India’s streets to die and shares the positivity online through its growing YouTube channel. AAU connects with and inspires the global community in its current efforts to help abandoned animals on the streets.
  3. Humane Society International: The Humane Society International (HSI) provides the necessary medical supplies and education for local governments in developing countries to enact humane ways of controlling growing animal populations. The organization works with local advocates in creating charities to battle against the inhumane shootings of unowned animals in the streets. With the support of HSI, local charities such as the Homeless Animals Protection Society in Ethiopia were able to emerge and thrive. These local charities receive the support to provide free or low-cost spay and neuter programs, as well as vaccination initiatives to combat deaths that rabies caused. The majority of deaths due to rabies occur in developing nations, and the vaccination equipment and education that HSI provides save thousands of people and animals each year.

While there are challenges getting health care to pets in developing nations, these three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty are truly making a difference. Through their continued efforts, pets should continue to receive the support they need.

Aria Ma
Photo: Pixabay

War Survivors in Uganda

The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa surrounded by Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. The northern parts of Uganda suffered from a 20-year long war between its government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which was led by Joseph Kony. The war has left Uganda as an impoverished nation and its people with unhealed emotional and physical wounds. However, thanks to the efforts of organizations including The Comfort Dog Project, more focus has been placed on addressing the mental health needs of war survivors in Uganda.


The war forced more than a million people to abandon their homes and live in camps for more than 10 years. Estimates show that the LRA abducted around 20,000 children to become their soldiers. They killed men and raped women. As a result of these atrocities, seven in 10 people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) today. And, the lack of mental health care services in the country is driving these survivors towards suicide and substance abuse. Uganda spends 9.8 percent of its GDP on health care and less than 1 percent of this goes to mental health. Overall, Uganda has 1.83 per 100,000 beds in the mental hospital with an occupancy rate of 100 percent.

The Birth of The Comfort Dog Project

The Comfort Dog project is a program of The Big Fix Uganda, a registered international NGO in Uganda. It operates the only veterinary hospital in Northern parts of the country. Francis Okello Oloya started this program in his hometown, Gulu in 2014. Oloya lost his sight to a blast at the age of 13 while he was working in his family garden. Despite these hurdles, Oloya managed to graduate from a community college with a degree in psychology. To fill up the gap in mental health care consequent to lack of resources and poverty in the country, this project provides psychosocial rehabilitation to the war survivors in Uganda who are suffering from PTSD.

The Comfort Dog Project uses the healing effect of the human-dog relationship. It is based upon the Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) initiative to improve a wide range of physiological and psychological outcomes in humans. The project helps by providing one on one and group education as well as counseling to those who suffer from PTSD followed by bonding with dogs through playing, nurturing and team activities.

Who Does The Comfort Dog Project serve?

The Comfort Dog project helps three groups of people: the LRA abductees, Uganda’s People Defense Force (UPDF) veterans and war-affected community members. The team assesses clients through psychological interviews for symptoms and refers those with severe symptoms to the regional hospital. Those who show the ability to create a bond with the animals are matched with an animal. The program also rescues and serves the dogs which have been homeless, neglected or mistreated. The project team spay, vaccinate and perform temperament tests on the dogs before matching them with their humans.

The Comfort Dog project has been successful in reducing the symptoms of PTSD among its participants. It also improved the public’s perception of dogs and animals. This project is a shining example of the concept ‘local solutions for local problems.’ Although not sufficient, the Big Fix Uganda is effectively fixing two problems of the country cost-effectively using a single project. With so many regions affected by war all around the world, this project shows a possible path to recovery for those who have suffered for long.

Navjot Butta
Photo: Flickr

Brooke CharityAround the world, over 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules, provide invaluable support to nearly eight percent of the world’s population. Through transportation, haulage and production, healthy working horses, donkeys and mules help put food on the table, send children to school and build better futures for their families. The Brooke charity has made it their mission to look out for these unsung heroes of poverty-ridden communities. Here are five things to know about the Brooke charity:

What is Brooke?

According to their website, “Brooke is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules.” With operations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, they reach over two million working horses, donkeys and mules across the globe. Their staff of over 900 people consists of vets, animal welfare experts and development specialists.

What do they do?

Brooke protects and improves the lives of equines that bolster the livelihoods of some of the world’s poorest communities. Animals cannot better their own welfare but people can. Brooke works with communities to provide the skills and support necessary to unlock their compassion for animals and reap the benefit it brings to their livelihoods. The charity partners with local health services and farriers to strengthen the skills of owners so they can get their animals the help they need timely and effectively. Brooke provides support for long-lasting change by working with international bodies such as the U.N. and governments at all levels.

How has Brooke evolved?

In 1930, when Dorothy Brooke arrived in Egypt, she was appalled at the state of the ex-warhorses being sold into a life of hard labor at the conclusion of World War I. Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased 5,000 ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down though, thanks to her, they ended their lives peacefully.

Brooke knew many hard-working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered. In 1934, she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo to provide free veterinary care for all the city’s working equines. Thus, the Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.

Fast forward 85 years to the present time, when Brooke leads the way in providing help to working equines and their owners in the developing world. They met their goal to reach two million working horses, donkeys and mules in 2016 in 11 countries, and continue to strive for greater impact around the world.

Why does their work matter?

Working equines transport people, move goods and deliver food and water. In some countries, up to six people rely on a single animal for survival. This means that in many of the world’s poorest regions, human welfare is inextricably linked to the welfare of working horses, donkeys, and mules. A healthier animal enables its owner to increase their income and improve living conditions. Given that approximately 80 percent of animal suffering is preventable, Brooke is doing all they can to ensure well-fed and looked after working animals can continue to keep millions of people out of extreme poverty.

What are the potential weaknesses of this organization?

While traditional working equine welfare programs have had some success in improving welfare and alleviating poverty, they have significant drawbacks. Providing vet or farrier care is expensive, can lead to a culture of dependency and often fails to reach all members of a community. Outreach education work can increase awareness but does not always create the behavioral changes needed for stable incomes and sustainable animal welfare.

Developing communities that depend on equines can largely benefit from the improved standards of living delivered by simple, effective programs that promote animal welfare at the community level. With a new or better understanding of the needs of their horses, donkeys or mules, people are empowered to change their behaviors and sustainably increase their income. This contributes to any developing community’s ultimate goal: a movement out of poverty.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

Decrease Poverty in Benin
Tourism is the second-fastest-growing industry in the world, but it is an untapped resource in many countries, including Benin. Benin is a small West African country and one of the poorest in Africa, but it does have one of the best wildlife reserves in West Africa. As a result, the country has exceptional tourism potential, which can help decrease poverty in Benin. However, protecting its wildlife is essential to achieving that goal.

Benin’s Potential for Tourism

Around 40% of Benin’s population lives in poverty. Tourism can thus help because it does not only increase gross domestic product (GDP). According to the World Bank, Benin’s natural landscapes and cultural attractions give them an advantage by both creating jobs across a range of skill sets and opening new markets for various businesses and entrepreneurs. This helps decrease poverty in Benin by further developing the country and generating shared wealth.

However, tourism and national parks in Africa are nearly symbiotic. Poaching does not just threaten wildlife, it also threatens tourism. Popular tourist destinations and National Parks in Africa tend to be East African countries, such as Tanzania’s Serengeti or Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. Botswana’s tourism sector makes up 8.9% of the country’s job market, creating 84,000 jobs and generating $2.52 billion in 2018. Benin has one of the highest conservation land ratios in Africa, but Benin’s Pendjari National Park is one of the last intact and richest wildlife reserves in West Africa.

The park is home to lions, elephants and leopards as well as endangered species, such as the giant pangolin, African wild dogs and the Jabiru Senegal. However, tourism in Benin accounts for only 0.7% of the country’s GDP, generating well below its potential at $197 million, and making up 5.6% of the job market. Instead, Benin’s economy relies on agriculture, accounting for 26.1% of the country’s GDP, although the weather in Benin can be unpredictable.

Plans to Expand Tourism

To expand economic development and decrease poverty in Benin, the Beninese government started the Government Action Program (GAP) in 2016 and passed a public-private partnership law in 2017 to attract foreign investors. The goal is to improve infrastructure, education, agriculture and tourism. Through seven major tourism projects under GAP, Benin plans to increase its tourism GDP to 10% by 2021. One project includes protecting and rehabilitating Pendjari Park.

In partnership with African Parks, a nongovernmental organization that manages 11 national parks and reserves in eight African countries, the Beninese government plans to double the wildlife population in Pendjari Park and increase the average 6,000 visitors to 9,000, but the task is only possible if Benin can protect its wildlife from poachers.

Canine Heroes

Throughout West Africa, poachers kill rhinos, pangolins and elephants to smuggle to Asian and European markets. This is where canines play a vital role in combating poaching and therefore protecting wildlife, tourism and the economy to decrease poverty in Benin.

In Tanzania, people use tracker dogs to combat poaching by finding wounded animals and tracking down poachers. Botswana has been a prime example of wildlife conservation, winning the war against poachers with their Canines for Conservation program and some of the harshest anti-poaching laws, which helped mitigate elephant losses seen in neighboring countries. Elephants from Angola, Namibia and Zambia retreated to Botswana for safety, but when the government disarmed anti-poaching units in 2018, the country lost 87 elephants and five white rhinos to poachers just months later. Poaching in Botswana has been on the rise ever since, not only threatening wildlife but potentially tourism in Botswana.

One of the biggest animal welfare and conservation charities, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), helped establish the Sniffer Dog Project in Benin to help stop poaching in Benin. These dogs are trained to detect animal parts at prime smuggling locations, such as airports, border crossings and the border of protected habitats. Before IFAW, there were no established dog detection training programs in West Africa; now there are eight canine detection units.

In January 2018, African Parks, National Geographic, the Beninese Government and the Wyss Foundation—a charity dedicated to protecting natural habitats—invested $23.4 million to protect Pendjari Park. Because of the vast potential of Benin’s tourism industry, decreasing poverty in Benin lies not only in agriculture, education and technology, but its rich history, iconic landscapes and wildlife.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Stray dogsActivism towards global poverty tends to focus on the different aspects of human welfare rather than animal welfare. Yet, many animal rights activists have raised concerns about how developing countries deal with feral dogs living close to human populations. As these animals can both attack and spread diseases to humans, governments must figure out methods to control stray dogs and their population growth in order to protect their citizens. Many of these methods promote cruelty towards dogs and/or have no effect upon them and their population.

Adoption as a Method to Control Stray Dogs

In the United States, shelters control stray dogs by capturing them and allowing families to adopt them into loving homes. It may seem as though this method can transfer to other countries (and many have tried) but cultural differences prevent its effectiveness. The concept of dog ownership differs from country to country. Though some changes have recently occurred, the adoption of street dogs does not often factor into the norm.

While citizens of the United States can adopt dogs from overseas, the process has many dangers. With the failure of quarantine and vaccination procedures, dogs can spread dangerous diseases from overseas. Also, bringing in foreign dogs can deny native dogs the chance for a loving home.


Too many countries promote and carry out the mass-culling of dogs in an attempt to curb the stray dog population. Readers might recall the 2014 scandal in which the city of Sochi poisoned hundreds of dogs in preparation of the Winter Olympics. In places such as India, citizens kill stray dogs every day through cruel methods such as electrocution.

Killing dogs might seem as justifiable as killing any wild animal in self-defense and the defense of others, and perhaps the introduction of more humane methods of euthanasia might solve the ethical conundrum of human welfare versus dog welfare. Yet, even humane euthanasia has very little effect upon the stray population. India has attempted to control stray dogs through culling programs for decades and still has the highest stray dog population of any country.

Furthermore, the ethics of euthanasia tend to recommend using euthanasia as a last resort. While euthanasia can remove a dog from a desperate situation, humans should attempt to intervene in health, environmental and behavioral issues first. Only in the failure of these inventions can the act of euthanasia become justified.

Capture, Neuter, Vaccination and Release

Vaccination and Capture, Neuter and Release programs (some programs combine the two) seem the most effective when dealing with the most common issues of stray dogs. Vaccinating stray dogs against diseases should cause them to not spread diseases to humans. Neutering dogs should cause a decrease in the dog population. The data of such programs backs up these claims.

A 1983 rabies vaccination program led by the World Health Organization (WHO) caused rabies rates to drop 93 percent between 1982 and 2003 in Latin America. Other programs in Tanzania reduced the rabies rate by 93 percent.

As for neutering programs, Jaipur, India decreased the dog density of the state by a third in 1994 and 1995. A program in the island nation of Abaco saw the number of dogs seen in the street reduced by 50-75 percent. The stray dogs in these programs also showed an improvement of health and welfare, having “improved coat luster and quality, improved skin conditions, and fewer parasites and venereal tumors.”

Yet despite the proven success of these programs, they still have limitations for wide-spread reach. Often in developing countries, veterinarians do not have the training or experience in small animal medicine and surgery. Citizens also can have misgivings with wanting to spay their pets or cannot reach the program locations. On top of that, organizations can have difficulty accessing the necessary resources and funds.

Though no method to control stray dogs works perfectly, some do work better both in the ethical and practical sense. In the future, perhaps innovation will make the practical methods more accessible to the places that need them. For now, the efforts made have great success.

– Elizabeth Frerking

Photo: Flickr

How Eating Less Meat Can Reduce Poverty
Many scientists have agreed that Earth’s maximum carrying capacity is between 9 and 10 billion people. The world is rapidly approaching this limit; the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

Poverty, water and food scarcity and environmental destruction are already major issues which an increase of nearly 2.5 billion people will severely exacerbate. How can the world cope with these crises? One solution is eating fewer animal products.

Eating less meat can reduce poverty and hunger, and benefit the environment. There are economic and health benefits to plant-based diets. The average American consumes 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry a year; this is roughly double the amount the government recommends.

The amount of eggs and dairy being consumed is also much higher than recommended. Although becoming vegan or vegetarian are the most effective options, even lowering consumption to the recommended guidelines could have a huge impact.

The Negative Effects of Animal Agriculture

Agricultural production uses 38 percent of Earth’s land, or about 3.5 billion acres; nearly 80 percent of this is used for animal agriculture. These 3.5 billion acres can produce enough food for 10 billion vegetarians, but only 2.5 billion Americans who eat meat, as more than half of the world’s harvest is used to feed animals instead of people.

Though 800 million people do not have enough food, livestock are fed “more than 60 percent of [the world’s] corn and barley, and over 97 percent of [its] soymeal.”

Animal production is also incredibly inefficient. Livestock requires large amounts of land, food, water and energy to produce, yet “take more energy and protein from their feed than they return in form of food for people.” Ten pounds of grain are required to produce one pound of meat; in comparison, land used to grow rice can support 19 times more people than land used to produce eggs.

Though some agricultural land is too arid for plant agriculture, much of it could be used to grow plant-based foods for people instead of for animals. Even if only 10-20 percent of the land currently used for animal agriculture was converted to crop production for humans, this would more than make-up for the loss of meat.

Agriculture also uses great amounts of water — accounting for an astonishing 70 percent of global freshwater consumption — and livestock production accounts for the vast majority. According to the International Water Management Institute, 6000 liters of water is required to produce one kilogram of chicken, more than double the amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cereals.

Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

Reducing animal product consumption worldwide could greatly reduce the amount of water used, and alleviate the ever-increasing water crisis that various countries face.

In addition, reducing meat consumption could improve the economy. If everyone became vegan, the world would save $1.6 billion by 2050. Industrial agriculture exacerbates poverty in developing nations as it is controlled by large corporations — such big organizations drive local farmers out of business.

In fact, local farmers are either forced to become contract growers for large corporations or move to cities, where they often must resort to working in sweatshops. Either path puts them at great risk of exploitation.

Overcrowding in the cities also drives down wages and leads to a rise in poverty and homelessness. A shift to local, more plant-driven production is more sustainable for local farms and can act to reduce poverty.

The Impact of How Eating Less Meat Can Reduce Poverty

Consuming fewer animal products could reduce world hunger and poverty. The United Nations World Food Council estimates that transferring 10-15 percent of cereals fed to livestock to humans is enough to raise the world’s food supply to feed the current population.

In addition, the International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that reducing the amount of meat consumed by 50 percent in high-income countries could result in 3.6 million fewer malnourished children in developing countries.

Eating less meat can reduce poverty and hunger. This is a choice that every individual can make, a choice that — particularly for middle and upper-class people in developed nations — isn’t too difficult. More stores are starting to carry a variety of plant-based products, many of which are less expensive than meat and dairy.

Small Steps for Great Gains

Scientific research and many doctors also agree that plant-based diets are oftentimes more healthful and nutritious than diets heavy in meat and dairy. Though becoming vegan or vegetarian may not be an option for everyone, reducing the number of animal products you consume could have amazing benefits for impoverished communities, for the environment and for the economy.

– Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

reducing poverty eliminates poaching
Poaching rates have climbed at an alarmingly fast rate. In fact, with continued growth, it is predicted that most of Africa’s vulnerable wildlife will be extinct by the end of the average person’s lifetime. The statistics indicate that there has been a 5,000 percent increase in rhino poaching alone throughout Africa between 2007 and 2011.

Several studies have attempted to determine the main cause of poaching, or illegal hunting, throughout Africa; the main source was found to be poverty. These same studies have shown how reducing poverty eliminates poaching, and stress the necessity to address this serious problem.

Current Efforts to Reduce Poaching

Poaching is a form of income for poor households throughout Africa, and it is especially effective for those who live in rural locations near wildlife preservations. Those who are arrested for poaching activities in national parks were significantly poorer than the rest of their communities, and more likely to live closer to the parks and therefore further from local trading centers.

There have been many strategies put in place to attempt to protect wildlife throughout Africa. Strategically placed rangers on the plains, wildlife preservation parks and punishments for violators are some of the measures that have been taken. However, these have proven ineffective; an average of two rangers are killed each week protecting wildlife, and prison sentences for poachers tend to be less than one month due to costs of food and housing for the inmates. The solution, therefore, resides in stopping poaching at its root: poverty.

Studies Demonstrate That Reducing Poverty Eliminates Poaching

A study by Eli Knapp found that poachers who described themselves as living in absolute poverty admitted killing these animals as a food source. These same people also asserted they would quit poaching permanently if they could earn income through other means. Poorer members of a community tend to poach more fiercely and for a longer period of time than those who merely poach for sport. It is important for these people to not feel so poor in relation to their peers in their community. Merely narrowing the income gap between residents will, in turn, decrease the rate of poaching.

Another study analyzes why people in poverty tend to poach and illuminates how reducing poverty eliminates poaching. Rosaleen Duffy argues that poverty results in a person feeling a lack of power, prestige and voice in their life, and poaching may be a means of seeking status in a community. While poaching is still seen as an illegal activity, in most communities it has become a local custom and brings higher prestige to people.

Poaching not only provides these poor communities with material needs of food and money, but also provides a way to meet non-material goals. Cutting poverty at its source will allow these people to increase their status while also preserving wildlife.

Although there have been many studies showing how reducing poverty eliminates poaching, there are still many other factors at play in this illegal activity. Reducing poverty will not completely eliminate all poaching, but it can drastically decrease the deaths of endangered species and other precious wildlife throughout Africa.

– Adrienne Tauscheck

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