18 February 2021

Brooke event highlights contribution of working livestock to food security

On Wednesday 10 February, Brooke and the ​African Union Intra-Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) ​held the event ‘SDG 2 and “Building Back Better” - Contributions of Working Livestock’ as part of the ​Committee on World Food Security (CFS 47)​. It highlighted the important contributions of working livestock to food security and discussed the role of women.

The event - attended by approximately 300 people from 52 countries - included speeches from Antonio Rota, Lead Global Technical Specialist in Livestock Development at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (​IFAD​), Ilaria Sisto, Gender Capacity Development Officer at the ​UN Food and Agriculture Organisation​ (FAO), Ligia Moges Matute, Director of OCTUPAN and Dr Thanamal Ravichandran of the ​International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)​.  

Working animals across the world have a vital role in providing food, both directly by transporting goods and to and from the market and indirectly by earning money to buy food. There are around 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules, helping 600 million people feed themselves and their families. Including working livestock in national and international livestock policies, food security and agriculture interventions is key for responding to the food security challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

All of us must continue raising awareness of building healthier, more sustainable food systems that protect rural women and youth. These groups must have access to agricultural resources they need - including strong and healthy working livestock.

Antonio Rota, Lead Global Technical Specialist in Livestock Development at IFAD 

Hiver Bossini, Senior Animal Affairs Officer at AU-IBAR and closing speaker, said: “As we forge ahead in this crusade to mainstream the role of working livestock in food security, we should be mindful about the delicate balance between human, animal and plant products.” 
“Working livestock are a key asset when it comes to food security - they provide direct income across a wide range of sectors, they facilitate agriculture and food production, their income generating role allows rural and urban communities to buy more food with their increased purchasing power and they therefore increase overall access to food.” 
Attendees at the event also heard from Rouguiatou Ka from Brooke West Africa. She discussed the recent study on working livestock and food security that the Brooke West Africa team have conducted in Burkina Faso. In Burkina Faso, almost all households surveyed - 99.67% - said they use donkeys for transporting goods to the market. The study suggests that if smallholders lost their working animals they’d anticipate a 50% loss in most cultivated crops, amounting to over 322,000 XOF (equivalent to around £425). Working donkeys are also vital for preserving women’s livelihoods in Burkina Faso, with Rouguiatou observing that “where a woman does not own a donkey, she essentially becomes the donkey of the family.” 

Read further responses from the panellists during the Q&A here:

At the event, Brooke launched its latest report ​Working Livestock and Food Security | The urgent case for recognition in the food security agenda for policy and programming​. This report calls for the inclusion of working livestock in local and regional policy and programmes, data collection on working livestock as a contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 ‘Zero Hunger’ and regulation of exploitative industries that harm animal health and welfare by governments, alongside other recommendations.  

Read the report here.