Animal Welfare in Rural Africa. Is it Possible?

With the complex and multifaceted issues of rural Africa, one would think animals would be at the bottom of the totem pole. And as a whole, that may be true but in a small rural village in Malawi, the concept is becoming more and more familiar. Just One Humanity has implemented an animal welfare program in a few village of Salima, Malawi. The program received some interesting stares and laughs before inception but has proven to be quite successful. Christina Mashupiko, our Livestock Coordinator, has been instrumental in moving this program forward. She is kind and gentle and demonstrates proper handling, housing and medicine administration for all of the hens in our communities.

As part of our sustainable food program, we provide hens to families in need. Eggs provide a great amount of protein and nutritional value for the families. Because we care greatly for the hens we distribute, the families must first attend our training class taught by Christina and a local Veterinarian. Upon completion of training hens are distributed, ten to each family. Within one week hen housing must be constructed and approved by our team. In the first month, weekly visits are conducted to make sure the hens are doing well in their new homes and that no additional antibiotics are required. We record number of hens to ensure none are being sold, have passed away or killed. Our program does not allow for the hens to be killed for meat. We believe the hens will provide more for families by laying eggs in the long term rather than killing them for one meal.

Animal welfare may seem like a difficult subject when poverty is so extreme and daily survival is the main concern. But, with the right team and program in place, it is possible. We have already noticed a shift within the communities and their handling of the hens. The families really respect Christina’s work and take her training seriously. Welfare for hens is just the beginning. We plan to expand this program for goats, cattle, pigs and even stray dogs and cats.