Top opportunities for improving animal welfare and community health
We conducted this research on behalf of the Animal Welfare Competence Center for Africa (Awecca). More information about this organisation's work for animals is available here on their website.
The welfare of farmed animals is a critical component of agriculture. Improving animal welfare means that animals live happier, healthier lives - not only is this good for its own sake, but animal welfare also supports community development, public health, and environmental outcomes. In this report, we identify the top opportunities for improving farmed animal welfare in Uganda.
For civil society and other stakeholders who seek to improve the lives of animals, it is important to focus efforts on the species, campaigns, and policies that will bring about the biggest improvements for a given investment of effort. Campaigns should focus on reaching as many animals as possible. Fish (170 million individuals) and chickens (43 million individuals) are the most numerous farmed animals in Uganda by far, and intensively farmed fish and chickens typically experience poorer welfare conditions than other animals. So, improving the lives of farmed fish and chickens is a priority. Likewise, campaigns should focus on the strategies that achieve the largest benefits. We recommend focusing on government outreach, though this can be supplemented by farmer outreach for some campaigns.
With this in mind, we have identified four main priority asks. All of these asks are high-priority and would make highly impactful campaigns. The flowchart below can help guide your choice of campaign from these four major options. The four priority asks are:
Preventing industrialised animal farming. Uganda currently has a mix of intensive, semi-intensive, and free range farming (more details below). Intensive and semi-intensive farming have been predicted to grow substantially as Uganda develops. This would cause many more animals to suffer, and it could cause animal welfare to deteriorate. This ask would involve advocating for the government to prevent the growth of intensive and semi-intensive farming, and to instead favour extensive and/or free-range farming. This ask would improve the lives of numerous animals in the short-term and in the long-term, and it would provide critical information for animal advocates in other developing countries. This ask would also allow Uganda to avoid many of the public health and environmental problems that have been caused by intensive farming in other countries.
Umbrella animal welfare regulations. Many countries have legally binding regulations that improve animal welfare on farms and ban farming practices that cause animals extreme suffering. This ask would involve advocating for the government to establish a similar set of legally binding regulations in Uganda, possibly building on the draft standards that do exist in Uganda. This would improve the lives of numerous animals now, allow animal welfare standards to become stronger over time, and provide legitimacy for future animal welfare campaigns.
Fish welfare improvements. Fish are the most numerous group of farmed animals in Uganda. Intensive, commercial-scale fish production is growing in Uganda, and this type of production typically causes fish to suffer throughout their lives. This ask would seek to improve the lives of farmed fish. Specifically, this ask could be achieved by: campaigning for the government to establish an overarching fish welfare standard; working with farmers to improve fish welfare on farms; and strengthening biosecurity and disease prevention policy.
Chicken welfare improvements. Chicken are the second most numerous group of farmed animals in Uganda. Intensive, commercial-scale chicken production also causes chickens to suffer throughout their lives, and this type of production is expected to expand in Uganda. This ask would seek to improve the lives of farmed chickens. Specifically, this ask could be achieved by: campaigning for the government to establish an overarching chicken welfare standard; working with farmers to improve chicken welfare on farms; and working with investors or banks to direct investment to higher-welfare farms.
Throughout our research, we have repeatedly found that there is scarce information about existing welfare conditions and agricultural policy. This means that we are facing more uncertainty than we typically do in our research. To overcome this uncertainty, we have identified four main priorities. All of these priorities appear to be very strong - even in the face of uncertainty, we would expect each of these priorities to be capable of improving the lives of millions of farmed animals.
These priorities can be selected and adapted based on on-the-ground conditions, which could include existing welfare conditions, the policy landscape, and stakeholder views. We have illustrated how an ask could be chosen based on the policy landscape and stakeholder views - see the below flowchart. If you are interested in advocating for farmed animal welfare in Uganda and none of these campaign opportunities are suitable for your circumstances, then we encourage you to reach out to Animal Ask so we can help you select the best campaign for you.
FARMED ANIMALS IN UGANDA: WHICH SPECIES TO TARGET?
Before we explain the priority asks in detail, it is important to keep in mind one of the most important factors in determining the impact of a campaign. This factor is the number of animals affected by the campaign. Institutional advocacy has one key advantage: it can reach across the entire country and can affect animals throughout Uganda. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity can magnify the impact of an animal advocacy campaign and improve the lives of animals and people at an enormous scale. To seize this opportunity, it is important to focus campaigns on the species of farmed animals with the highest numbers.
Here, we list the number of farmed animals alive at any one time in Uganda. This differs from the number of animals slaughtered each year (see below). These numbers are approximations and are based on our own calculations, using data from Uganda Bureau of Statistics, FAO, and Open Philanthropy (1–3). Keep in mind that the data sources we have used suffer from some inaccuracies, so this data should be taken as a rough approximation.
170 million fish. Around 55% of these are tilapia, and around 45% are catfish. Fish farms can be small-scale (smallholders) or medium- and large-scale (commercial) (4).
43 million chickens. Around 82% of these are farmed for meat, and around 18% for eggs. The majority of chickens are free-range (55%), though some chickens are farmed in semi-intensive (20%) or intensive (25%) systems (5).
17 million goats. Goats are generally farmed on individual or communal grazing land in small flocks of one or two dozen goats, though small-scale commercial farms are more common around Mubende District (6,7).
15 million cows. Around 75% of these are farmed for meat, and around 25% for milk. The vast majority of cows are pastoral or agro-pastoral (90%), with only a minority in semi-intensive (2%) or commercial ranching (8%) (5).
4.6 million sheep. Sheep are farmed in similar conditions to goats, although farmers usually only keep a few sheep (6,8).
4.4 million pigs. Most pigs are raised informally in free range or scavenging backyard systems, although pigs raised in urban settings are often farmed using intensive methods (9).
370,000 rabbits (10). Most rabbits are raised in small groups for local consumption (10).
There are also roughly 100 billion bees farmed for honey and beeswax (1,2,11). Lastly, there are some farmed prawns and crayfish, but there is no available data on numbers (4).
Given these numbers, the strongest opportunity for animal advocacy organisations in Uganda is improving the welfare of farmed fish and chickens. For every goat in Uganda, there are ten fish and two-and-a-half chickens. Also, intensively farmed chickens and fish typically experience poorer welfare conditions than other groups of farmed animals (12,13). Influencing government policy to improve fish and chickens represents an opportunity to do an immense amount of good for both animals and communities.
For comparison, we also present the number of animals slaughtered per year. These numbers are given in Table 1. This is another useful metric to consider, and it is relevant for some ethical views. For example, some views place a great emphasis on preventing extreme suffering, such as the suffering experienced by animals at slaughter. For this reason, it is useful to consider both the number of animals alive at any one time and the number of animals slaughtered per year. When considering the number of animals slaughtered per year, fish and chickens appear to be an even greater priority - this is because fish and chickens have shorter lifespans than other animals. This provides even more reason to focus animal advocacy efforts in Uganda on fish and chickens.
Improving the welfare of goats and cows - and to a lesser extent, sheep and pigs - would still be good if an organisation is unwilling or unable to work on fish or chicken welfare. Improving the welfare of farmed bees would also be beneficial, but not all organisations would be willing to work on this and there are fewer well-tested interventions for improving bee welfare (14). Overall, fish and chickens should take precedent in welfare campaigns, given the enormous scale of those two groups of animals and the comparatively worse conditions that they typically experience.
Table 1: Number of animals alive at any one time, compared to the number slaughtered per year. In both cases, fish and chickens are the top priority for animal advocacy in Uganda.
Note that there are known inaccuracies in these sources from which this data was obtained (15,16). For example, this data would imply that pigs are kept for about two years, but in reality they are kept for about six months (17). Likewise, this data would imply that cows are kept for about ten years, but in reality most cows seem to be slaughtered by age 5 (18). This data should be taken as a rough approximation, not a perfect data source. Nevertheless, the main conclusion we draw from this data - that fish and chickens are the most numerous farmed vertebrates in Uganda by far - is basically certain to remain true.
TOP CAMPAIGN OPPORTUNITIES
Now, we turn to the most promising campaign opportunities for improving the lives of animals in Uganda. These four opportunities are listed in order of priority. However, the campaign that you choose from these should be guided by the local, on-the-ground conditions (e.g. receptiveness of policymakers to particular asks). We encourage you to follow the logical flowchart in this document's Executive Summary to guide your choice of ask from within these four opportunities.
Summary of campaign opportunities
The following table summarises the key details of the four priority campaigns to allow a quick comparison across the campaigns. Then, in the sections below, we discuss each campaign opportunity in detail.
Table 2. Summary of our top recommended campaign opportunities for animal advocacy in Uganda.
Priority 1: Preventing industrialised animal farming
The highest priority is to advocate against the growth of industrialised animal farming in Uganda. This campaign could have the largest benefit of any opportunity that we identified. This campaign would aim to stop or slow the growth of industrialised farming, and instead favour extensive or free-range farming.
By industrialised animal farming, we mean the system of commercial animal farming that involves large-scale, indoor facilities, where animals are 'confined indoors under strictly controlled conditions' (19). Industrialised animal farming uses intensive production methods like battery cages and gestation crates, and this system is generally designed to maximise profits and minimise costs (19). The specifics of the policy would determine which exact practices are banned or prevented. In contrast, extensive animal farming involves natural environments, where animals can express natural behaviours, such as exploration, grazing, and exercise (20). The pastoral and free-range systems that are used by small-scale households in Uganda are examples of extensive production systems.
The population of Uganda is expected to at least double over the next 40 years (21). While many Ugandans will still experience poverty, the average amount of wealth per person will increase (21). A higher percentage of the population will reside in urban areas. A larger, wealthier Ugandan population is likely to demand more meat. So, it is possible that the government will seek to grow the industrialised farming sector to address this growing demand for meat. On the other hand, the government could be encouraged to support extensive or free-range production.
There are many ways to encourage the government to support extensive production rather than industrial/intensive production. This could help the government avoid the public health and environmental problems that have been caused by industrialised animal farming in developed countries (see Appendix 2: Animal Welfare and One Health). Specifically, supporting extensive and free-range production would enable agricultural income to be dispersed to many households, particularly those experiencing poverty, rather than to a handful of large, commercial companies. Likewise, this could enable the government to position themselves as a leader in sustainable agricultural policy on both the regional and global stage, especially considering the attention being given to animal welfare at the level of the African Union (22,23).
The benefits from preventing the growth of industrialised animal farming in Uganda would fall into three categories. Firstly, farmed animals would likely experience conditions that are better for their welfare. Intensive animal farming involves confining animals in large, densely populated buildings. This usually stops animals from experiencing freedoms and natural behaviours that are essential for their welfare, and there are many specific harms involved with industrial production systems (e.g. painful mutilations or health problems caused by using fast-growing breeds) (24,25). Indeed, the major animal welfare campaigns currently taking place in developed countries focus on phasing out the worst practices of industrialised farming, like keeping hens in cages (26). If Uganda did not pursue intensive animal farming, and instead favoured extensive or free-range farming, then the conditions that cause immense suffering to animals would be averted.
Secondly, this campaign in Uganda would be extremely valuable as a source of information for animal advocates in other developing countries. If this campaign is successful in Uganda, then it would be a watershed moment - the campaign could be replicated in other countries around the world, magnifying its impact substantially and improving the lives of hundreds of millions or even billions of animals worldwide.
Thirdly, there may be fewer animals farmed overall. Industrialised farming systems were developed to farm a very large number of animals very cheaply. Extensive or free-range farming would produce a smaller number of animals, which could mean that fewer animals are born into lives of suffering. This would depend on whether Ugandans' demand for meat remains relatively low, or whether the demand increases but is met by free-range production or even imports from other countries.
The scale of this ask could be immense. At any one time, there are 170 million farmed fish in Uganda - most of these fish are farmed intensively, and projections show that fish production across Africa is likely to grow by between two and six times over the next 30 years¹ (27). Likewise, there are 43 million chickens being farmed in Uganda, almost half of which are farmed in semi-intensive or intensive systems (5). The FAO predicts that there could be up to 187 million chickens farmed for meat by 2050, compared to 37 million today (not including layer hens), with up to 90% in semi-intensive or intensive production (compared to 45% today) (5). This ask could slow this growth drastically, meaning that fewer animals are born into lives of suffering and the animals that are farmed do not experience the suffering typical of intensive production systems.
The key question is whether it is possible to prevent the growth of industrialised animal farming in Uganda - or, indeed, in any country. At the global level, there is currently some research underway (by both Animal Advocacy Africa and Animal Ask) that aims to shine further light on this question. However, the most critical uncertainty is whether a government and other stakeholders would be willing to consider the possibility of stopping industrialised farming. Conducting this campaign could not only improve the lives of over seven hundred million animals alive at any one time by 2050 (though this depends on the specifics of the policy), but could also unlock the opportunity for animal advocates around the world to replicate this campaign.
As illustrated in the flow chart at the beginning of this report, advocates in Uganda can aim to find out whether policymakers are open to considering this ask. Since this ask would do an immense amount of good for animals, if there is a decent chance that the Ugandan government would consider this ask - even if the chance is not guaranteed - then this ask would be a top priority.
Priority 2: Umbrella animal welfare regulations
The next highest priority is to advocate for umbrella animal welfare regulations. This would involve establishing a collection of standards that govern animal welfare for, at least, intensive and semi-intensive production. These standards would be most impactful if they include both fish and chickens, and including other groups of farmed animals would be a bonus.
The impact of this ask hinges on the strength of the resulting regulations. Ideally, the regulations would be legally binding, and they would cover the major groups of farmed animals, like fish and chickens. The ideal regulations would also establish regular reviews - this would set up an institutional framework through which animal welfare standards in Uganda can be improved over time. Strong, overarching regulations like these would improve the lives of animals now and in the future, and these regulations would also provide legitimacy for future animal welfare campaigns.
The ideal regulations would cover the major welfare problems experienced by farmed animals. Studying the major welfare problems would require the knowledge of local experts and other stakeholders, as well as on-the-ground farm visits and species-specific considerations. However, generally speaking, chickens are likely to experience welfare problems in: breed, stocking density, litter and air quality, temperature, light and other equipment, nutrition, handling, transport, and stunning and slaughter (28). For fish, the major welfare problems generally include: water quality, space requirements and stocking density, feed composition, stunning and slaughter, and environmental enrichment (29). Similar lists can be produced for goats, cows, sheep, and pigs. A comprehensive welfare standard would cover all of these areas. (Fish and chickens are discussed further in their dedicated sections below.)
Uganda has a draft set of animal welfare standards that cover animals farmed for food, published in 2019 (US ISO/TS 34700:2016 Animal welfare management General requirements and guidance for organizations in the food supply chain)². These standards are based on the Terrestrial Animal Health Code of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH / OIE). As it stands, this code provides very few practical protections for the species included. Chickens, for example, are afforded broad protection during transport, rearing and slaughter, but in most instances the code fails to specify any requirements. Instead, the code simply outlines factors that should be considered to improve their welfare. This may act as a first step towards practical protections, but as the code stands currently, the vast majority of requirements are unenforceable. Therefore, this code should be seen as largely symbolic. The Ugandan standards and the Terrestrial Animal Health Code exclude fish.
Also, these standards are voluntary only - a first step could be to campaign for the Ugandan government to make these standards legally binding on commercial producers.
It would be ideal to include fish in any animal welfare regulations, as this would help improve the lives of the most numerous group of farmed animals in Uganda. The WOAH does produce an Aquatic Animal Health Code, which covers the health and welfare of farmed fish. These standards mostly cover disease control, transport, stunning, and killing - as such, these standards do not cover other major determinants of fish welfare, like water quality and stocking density. Nevertheless, since this code is produced by the WOAH, as is the Terrestrial Animal Health Code on which Uganda's voluntary animal welfare standards are based, the government may be open to establishing a set of fish welfare standards based on the Aquatic Animal Health Code.
There are other, stronger fish welfare standards around the world that could be the basis for a new set of fish standards for Uganda. It may be useful to keep this in mind during discussions and negotiations with policymakers. A broad overview of fish welfare standards is available on the website of the Aquatic Life Institute. For example, the certifier Aquaculture Stewardship Council is scheduled to release a new, strong set of fish welfare standards in late 2023, which will likely include welfare standards for Nile tilapia (30). African catfish is less common in certification schemes - the certifier GLOBALG.A.P. does have certification standards for this species (31), though animal welfare is not a strong focus.
It may be more tractable to begin with a smaller ask. It could be possible to campaign to place greater emphasis on animal welfare in an authoritative document, like the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy, the Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan, the One Health plan, or another government policy document. For example, this campaign could seek to commit the government to establishing new animal welfare policies in the future. While this campaign may be easier to achieve than strong regulations, it carries the risk of never actually resulting in any new meaningful policies.
Priority 3: Fish welfare improvements
Background to farmed fish in Uganda
The group of animals in Uganda that is the highest priority for advocacy is fish. At any one time, there are 170 million farmed fish in Uganda, which is much higher than any other group of animals³. Just over half of these are Nile tilapia, and just under half are African catfish. There are very few carp.
Projections show that fish production across Africa is likely to grow by between two and six times over the next 30 years (27). This means that advocacy efforts that affect fish across Uganda, such as welfare standards or particular regulations, will have an impact that grows over time⁴.
There are three main systems of production for fish farming in Uganda (4). The most significant is the cage system. Cage farming, which has emerged recently and grown rapidly, involves intensive farming fish at high-densities inside cages in Uganda's lakes (4,16). Almost all Nile tilapia in Uganda are farmed in cages. The second system is pond farming, which involves intensive and semi-intensive farming for both Nile tilapia and African catfish (4). Thirdly, there are also tank systems, but these are mostly used for breeding and spawning (4).
Fish farming is carried out by both commercial-scale farmers and smallholders (4). Commercial fish farming has been growing exponentially in recent years, due to commercial farmers' ability to access international finance and imported feed (16). This growth is expected to slow down slightly, but still remain relatively high. There is a list of the largest companies involved in aquaculture in Uganda, including farming companies, breeding companies, and feed producers, in the report by Larive International & Asigma Capital Advisory Services (16).
Concrete evidence about the welfare of farmed fish in Uganda is sparse. Stocking densities in cages can reach 300 to 600 fish/m3. One study found that reducing these stocking densities can improve growth and survival of farmed tilapia (32), which may indicate that fish farmed at higher stocking densities are experiencing poor welfare.
Unlike with other types of animals farmed in Uganda, most farmed fish are exported to nearby countries, like Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16). About two-thirds of tilapia are exported, and about one-quarter of catfish are exported (16). This suggests that having links with stakeholders in those countries (e.g. retailers, civil society) could help lobbying efforts to improve fish welfare in Uganda.
Advocacy efforts should focus on improving the lives of fish in large-scale, commercial production, rather than production by smallholders. Since commercial farmers produce a much larger number of fish than smallholders, it is possible to reach a much higher number of fish with advocacy efforts than would be possible for smallholder production. For each farm influenced, whether by direct help or policy change, many more fish would benefit.
The biggest uncertainty is whether advocating for farmed fish in Uganda is currently tractable. Fish are highly neglected by animal advocacy organisations in Africa, almost all of which focus on land animals (33). This would suggest that advocating for farmed fish may have a particularly large impact - there may be some policies that could improve fish welfare for relatively little effort, simply because fish welfare has not received attention in Uganda. Likewise, the first organisation to conduct work on fish welfare in Uganda could inspire other organisations, policymakers, and farmers to give this issue greater attention, thereby increasing the impact of a campaign even more. However, there is basically no precedent for work on farmed fish welfare in Uganda, which might make a fish welfare campaign less likely to succeed. As we have illustrated in the flow chart at the beginning of this report, the key question is whether policymakers, fish farmers, and other stakeholders would consider taking measures to improve fish welfare. This is not a question we can resolve through our own research. So, if you are looking to carry out an animal advocacy campaign in Uganda, a wise first step would be to conduct some initial scoping research to answer this question (and the others in the flow chart at the beginning of this report). This could involve speaking with policymakers and fish farmers to develop a sense of whether these people are willing to consider policies that improve fish welfare.
Top opportunities for improving fish welfare in Uganda
We have identified three main opportunities for improving fish welfare in Uganda. We focus on the campaigns for which there is sufficient evidence, based on our research. These three main opportunities that we have identified are:
Establishing an overarching regulation for farmed fish welfare. This is discussed in detail above, and many of those strategies also apply here - this campaign would simply narrow the focus to fish, rather than including other animals. This campaign would involve identifying the major welfare problems experienced by farmed fish in Uganda, then campaigning for the government to implement an overarching regulation or other policy to address these welfare problems. A regulation would involve a collection of welfare considerations, perhaps covering water quality, space requirements and stocking density, feed composition, stunning and slaughter, and environmental enrichment (29). A broad regulation like this would enable the campaign to improve the lives of fish, even if the evidence is murky for any one welfare consideration.
Assisting farmers with farmed fish welfare. In principle, this is similar to an overarching regulation for farmed fish welfare, except with a stronger emphasis on direct work with farmers rather than government lobbying. For example, this campaign could involve building relationships with farmers and then working with those farmers to improve fish welfare standards on farms. Improving fish health and welfare would improve growth and survival and reduce problems like disease and stunted growth (32,34), which could encourage farmers to participate in this programme. Work very similar to this is being conducted by Fish Welfare Initiative in India and the Philippines, which could provide useful lessons to help begin this work in Uganda. This campaign could also build support for fish welfare among farmers, which could lay the groundwork for future policy lobbying campaigns.
Improving fish biosecurity policy. Preventing and controlling diseases can prevent both unnecessary suffering in fish and financial losses to farmers. Uganda's policies for fish biosecurity do not include sufficient provisions for disease control and management (4). There are significant biosecurity lapses in regulatory frameworks and in practices on fish farm (4,16). As commercial-scale aquaculture expands, mass mortalities are becoming more common (4). This campaign would involve strengthening the regulatory frameworks for fish biosecurity and disease control and providing farmers with the knowledge and tools necessary to improve on-farm practices.
Information about fish welfare in Uganda is sparse. Conducting further research in the country, such as visiting fish farms and speaking to stakeholders, may reveal further campaign opportunities.
Priority 4: Chicken welfare improvements
Background to farmed chickens in Uganda
After fish, the group of animals with the next highest priority in Uganda are chickens. At any one time, there are 43 million chickens being farmed in Uganda. These are mostly broiler chickens (82%), although there is a notable population of layer hens (18%). Currently, just under half of all chickens are farmed in semi-intensive (20%) or intensive (25%) systems (5). Intensive production involves farming thousands of chickens at a time, usually exotic breeds. Intensive production generally takes place in large, permanent buildings in peri-urban areas (5). Semi-intensive is similar, though building structures may be more basic, and chickens may scavenge for food. Just over half of chickens are farmed in free-range systems (55%) (5). Free-range systems involve small flocks of a few indigenous chickens, who are kept by a household and freely scavenge for food (5).
Advocacy efforts should focus on improving the lives of chickens in intensive and semi-intensive production, rather than free-range production. Since the flocks are much larger in intensive and semi-intensive production, it is possible to reach a much higher number of chickens with advocacy efforts than would be possible for free-range production. It is also likely that, like in other countries, chickens farmed intensively or semi-intensively live worse lives than free-range chickens (28,35). For each farm influenced, whether by direct help or policy change, thousands of chickens would benefit, rather than just a few.
The FAO predicts that there could be a massive expansion of semi-intensive and intensive poultry production over the next 30 years. This expansion would mean that there are many more chickens farmed in Uganda, with up to 187 million chickens farmed for meat by 2050, compared to 37 million today (not including layer hens). This rate of growth is similar to the growth expected for farmed fish (see above). This expansion would also mean that a higher percentage of chickens in Uganda are farmed under industrial conditions, with up to 90% in semi-intensive or intensive production (compared to 45% today) (5).
So, advocacy efforts that influence this trajectory - either by slowing the growth of industrial chicken farming, or setting welfare standards to improve the lives of chickens in industrial production - could have an enormous impact for chickens both now and in the future.
Top opportunities for improving chicken welfare in Uganda
We have identified one main opportunity for improving poultry welfare in Uganda. This is the campaign for which there is sufficient evidence, based on our research. However, we have also identified two further campaigns that could be a useful way to support this primary campaign.
The main opportunity is:
Establishing an overarching regulation for broiler chicken welfare. As with the similar fish campaign (above), this campaign would focus on establishing overarching regulations for broiler chickens. This campaign could also progress to including layer hen regulations as well. For broilers, the main welfare improvements to be included in the regulation can be determined by visiting some intensive farms and documenting the main welfare problems present, as well as drawing from experts in poultry welfare and existing regulations in other countries. However, the top welfare improvements are likely to include choice of breed (avoiding fast-growing breeds), stocking density, litter quality, environmental enrichment, and stunning and slaughter. Other factors that could also be improved include air quality, lighting, and outdoor access. For layer hens, regulations would likely focus on banning cages, reducing stocking density, providing environmental enrichment, and improving feed quality. Layer hen regulations could also include a ban on male chick culling, instead requiring producers to use pre-hatch sexing as is being implemented in several European countries. To improve the prioritisation of these different factors, it would be useful to visit some intensive farms and document the main welfare problems present. This would also provide valuable local data to present to the government to assist with advocacy efforts.
The two smaller, supporting campaigns that could help to achieve that campaign are:
Assisting farmers with broiler welfare. Another option is to work directly with farmers. This campaign would be most effective if it focuses on the largest farms - particularly those transitioning to, or expanding, intensive production - rather than smallholders with only a few chickens. This work would encourage farmers to implement some of the specific welfare improvements (listed in the dot point above) by pointing out how these improvements can also benefit broiler health and productivity. (Some improvements, like slower-growing breeds, would not benefit productivity.) Working with farmers would build support for higher-welfare farming systems and would therefore be a useful tactic towards achieving broader regulations.
Ensure industrialisation is focused on higher-welfare systems. This intervention would require close coordination with large-scale investors and banks to influence the development and intensification of the broiler industry. One type of this campaign involves working with shareholders - 'shareholder activism' is discussed in detail in this article, and it seems like a promising approach for advocacy. The aim would be to direct investment or require that investments are only made to farms that plan to adopt higher welfare practices, such as those outlined above. The poultry sector in Uganda appears to be constrained by insufficient capital investment (36). This suggests that attaching welfare conditions to investments and loans would indeed encourage farmers to follow those welfare conditions. If successful, this could influence the development of the poultry sector in a direction that involves higher animal welfare from the beginning. This could also make future calls for welfare regulations more likely to be successful. For this campaign, it is important not to accidentally encourage any additional capital investment or loans in the poultry sector, as this could inadvertently cause poultry farming to expand; rather, the campaign should focus on attaching welfare conditions to investments and loans that would have been made anyway.
WHICH TYPE OF CAMPAIGN?
Above, we have provided the highest-priority asks for improving the welfare of farmed animals in Uganda. However, for each of these asks, there may be a few different campaign methods. Animal advocacy organisations have many different types of campaigns available to them. Organisations can maximise their chances of success by selecting a type of campaign that is well-suited to the context of animal welfare in Uganda.
Government outreach is the type of campaign that we think is strongest for Uganda. Government outreach involves working with policymakers, such as Ministry employees and politicians, to adopt new animal welfare policies and reform existing policies. This type of campaign is cost-effective, as it is possible to establish impactful policies with a relatively small team. There are relatively few animal advocacy organisations working on government outreach in Uganda and even in Africa (37). The talent necessary for this type of campaign is relatively easy to find.
Government outreach does risk having no impact or even causing overall harm (37). For example, in Uganda, delays due to bureaucracy can mean that a campaign stalls and has no impact. Likewise, a poorly designed campaign could do more harm than good. This is why it is important to spend time researching policies that are being advocated for, which is what this report seeks to achieve.
Beyond our top recommendation, there are three other types of campaigns that we encourage organisations to consider:
Public/individual outreach involves creating awareness among the public or certain groups (e.g. farmers) about topics like animal welfare, animal sentience, and vegan diets. This type of campaign is highly scalable, and the necessary talent is available (37). Public/individual outreach can build support for animal advocacy in Africa, possibly making institutional campaigns (like government outreach) easier in the future. This campaign type might risk causing negative reactions among the public (37), though we do not think that this risk is high.
Direct help involves providing direct, on-the-ground assistance to animals themselves, such as by conducting vaccination programmes or installing stunning equipment in slaughterhouses. Direct help is generally weaker across multiple measures, though it does have a lower risk of causing no or negative impact (37).
Capacity building involves building the skills, abilities, and resources of farmers, veterinarians, and other community members to better understand and support animal welfare. Capacity building is generally weaker across multiple measures, and it is particularly difficult to measure its success (37). For Uganda specifically, research by the Animal Welfare Competence Centre for Africa found that there has been a programme aiming to build animal welfare capacity among veterinary inspectors and veterinary officers. This programme, led by Bam Animal Clinics, has reached more than 200 professionals, but the overall impact on animal welfare has been limited. This suggests that capacity building campaigns targeting veterinarians in Uganda would need to first require an understanding of why previous campaigns have been unsuccessful. Campaigns targeting other community members, like farmers, could still be promising.
Lastly, there are three types of campaigns that we do not think would be applicable in Uganda:
Producer pressure campaigns involve pressuring farmers, producers, and others involved in animal farming to commit to adopting higher welfare standards. However, this type of campaign depends on leveraging public opinion to place pressure on large-scale, industrial producers and farmers. Public support for animal welfare campaigns is a little lower in African countries than in the developed countries where producer pressure campaigns have been successful (38). For this reason, producer pressure campaigns are unlikely to work well in Uganda.
Retailer/food service outreach involves campaigning for retailers (e.g. markets) and food service providers (e.g. restaurants and hotels) to only sell food produced to high welfare standards. This type of campaign has been successful in developed countries (39). However, this campaign depends on a relatively concentrated retail sector, with a small number of companies each controlling large volumes of trade. As such, this type of campaign is poorly suited to Uganda, where most farmed animals are either consumed by the family that raised them or sold locally on informal markets (5). As an exception, many farmed fish (particularly those farmed in large-scale, commercial operations) are exported to neighbouring countries like Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and South Sudan (4,16). It could be possible to campaign for retailers in those countries to adopt higher welfare standards for these farmed fish, though the advocacy work necessary for this campaign would need to take place in those countries, rather than in Uganda. This campaign would be more likely to succeed if any of those countries had concentrated retail sectors, ideally with a few large retailers in tight competition with each other, as this dynamic encourages retailers to adopt animal welfare standards for their products.
Certifier campaign is similar to retailer/food service outreach, except that companies are asked to adopt welfare certification schemes. The certification schemes may also be pressured to improve their animal welfare standards, if necessary. This type of campaign is poorly suited to Uganda for the same reason as retailer/food service outreach.
APPENDIX: FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Animal Advocacy Africa maintains a list of funding opportunities available here. We have taken the most relevant funding opportunities from that list and summarised them in the table below. These are the funding opportunities that are most likely to be helpful for organisations in Uganda advocating for animal welfare (and particularly for the campaigns we recommend in this report).
Many countries have rules and regulations around receiving foreign funding. This may increase the risk of depending on a few foreign donors, so it is important to make sure you understand these rules when seeking funding.
APPENDIX: ANIMAL WELFARE AND ONE HEALTH
Highlighting the ways in which animal welfare can contribute to Uganda's goals in economic development and public health is a powerful way to provide justification and gain support for animal welfare campaigns. The links between animal welfare, economic development, and public health can be communicated using the One Health framework. Explaining these links during campaigns can help motivate the government and other stakeholders to support animal welfare.
The One Health framework recognises the links between animal health and welfare, human health, and environmental health (40). Recognising how animal welfare can contribute to economic and community development allows governments and organisations to make smarter investments. According to the International Livestock Research Institute (41): 'One dollar invested in One Health approaches can generate five dollars’ worth of benefits at the country level through increased GDP and the individual level.' Animal welfare is not a luxury, but an essential component of public health and economic development (42).
The government of Uganda has a long history of adopting the principles of the One Health framework. This began in 1980 with the establishment of the Veterinary Public Health Division (43) and was made official in Uganda's One Health Strategic Plan 2018-2022 (44). The One Health framework emphasises that animal welfare is closely linked to both public health and economic prosperity.
For public health, the One Health framework shows that animal welfare can contribute to healthy, safe communities in a number of ways:
Reducing zoonotic diseases. Uganda's One Health Strategic Plan 2018-2022 (44) recognises that improving animal health and welfare makes animals less likely to develop and transmit zoonotic disease. This can prevent the emergence of zoonotic diseases and the associated threats to public health (42).
Reducing antimicrobial resistance. The Strategic Plan also recognises the links between animal health and antimicrobial resistance (44). Animals with higher welfare can be raised with fewer antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk of antimicrobial resistance and improving community health (31,42).
Increasing food safety. When animals harbour harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter, people who eat the animals' meat can become sick. Healthier, less stressed animals are less likely to harbour these bacteria. This improves food safety and people's health (40,42,44).
Reducing environmental problems. Better husbandry systems are more productive. This means that fewer resources like feed and water are wasted and that fewer environmental pollutants are released into the atmosphere and the water. This reduces environmental problems (42).
For economic development, animal welfare can also contribute to increasing farmer and community wealth and building the private sector. The government of Uganda seeks to transform the country into a modern and prosperous society at the upper-middle income level by 2040 (45). Animal welfare can contribute to this goal:
More efficient food production. Animals with higher welfare are healthier and less stressed, and therefore experience lower mortality and higher yields (40). This makes agricultural production more efficient, helping both households and businesses to produce more.
Supporting private sector economic development. Businesses that can produce food more efficiently will be in a strong economic position to develop, such as through capital investments. This can support Uganda's commitment to private sector development (45).
Improving food security. Helping households to produce food more efficiently can improve household food security (42), and preventing the emergence of zoonotic diseases can improve food security country-wide (44).
Increasing income. More productive, efficient production of food means that both households and commercial farmers can receive more money (42).
1. Farming of goats, cows, pigs, and sheep may also expand and/or become more intensive, though these animals would still only represent a small percentage of intensive animal farming in Uganda.
2. The standard is available for purchase from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, though we have been unable to obtain a copy.
3. The number of farmed fish may be smaller than our estimate, as one source concluded that the scale of production might actually be smaller than estimates would suggest (16). The number of farmed fish in Uganda would still be larger than the number of farmed chickens.
4. There is also a chance that building support for fish welfare could eventually inspire efforts to improve the welfare of wild-caught fish during capture, though scientific wild-caught fish welfare is less well-developed than farmed fish welfare.
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