A virtual conference on the role of working animals in food security during the COVID 19 pandemic was held on February 10, 2021. It was organized by Brooke Hospital for animals, a member of the coalition for action for animal health, in partnership with AU- IBAR. The event was also an occasion to present the report on “the contribution of working livestock to the food security agenda for policy and programming: the urgent case for recognition.”
Civil society experts, international organizations, and academia from around the world participated in the conference.
The conference recalled that, in Africa, small-scale farmers produce half of the food requirements in calories. These small producers play a key role in reducing hunger and malnutrition. As in almost all sectors, the COVID pandemic has had adverse effects on famers’ activities. For instance productivity and production has slowed down and a poor market prices is observed in some countries. Most of these farmers are women, and many of them depend on working animals to cultivate and irrigate their crops for income, enabling them to meet their basic needs, including food.
“It is important to keep in mind that working livestock are critical assets to their owners. They provide direct income across a wide range of sectors, particularly agriculture and also enable economic activities and time savings for their owners. Working animals, like horses and donkeys, play a vital role in facilitating farmer agriculture and food production. However, it’s observed policies and program on working animals are rarely appear on the agendas in international forums. ” indicates Hiver Boussini, Animal Health Officer, AU-IBAR.
The conference ended with recommendations: to promote the approaches on “One Health” and “One Welfare”, and to carrying out advocacy to increase projects for women’s empowerment and the wellbeing of working animals.
The event was led by a panel of experts including Antonio Rota, Senior Livestock Development Specialist, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Meriem El Hilali, Foreign Affairs Advisor, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations; Rouguiatou Ka, Advocacy Officer, BROOKE West Africa; Ligia Monges Matute, Director, OCTUPAN; Dr Thanammal Ravichandra, Consultant, CGIAR and International Institute for Research on Livestock (ILRI); Ilaria Sisto, Gender and Capacity Building Expert, UN FAO.