VETS UNITED in The Gambia
First Project became permanent part of the curriculum
Situation of Animal Welfare and Animal Welfare Education in The Gambia
There is no study course to become a veterinarian offered in The Gambia. The whole country has only few veterinarians, which mostly work in administration or practice in the urban areas at the coast. At the same time, less than 70 registered VPPs provide animal healthcare for 2 million farm animals. Before the beginning of the project, animal welfare was not a component of their training. Farm animals are the foundation of most small-scale farms which dominate the agricultural sector. Typical animal welfare issues are malnutrition, parasite infection and tick borne diseases.
Facts and Figures
Focus: Animal Welfare in Academic Education
Project manager: Dr Kebba Daffeh
Start of the programme: 2015/16
Partners: University of The Gambia, Gambia College, Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust
Target group: Students of Agriculture, Animal Health and Animal Production at Gambia College
Course: Weekly lectures and practical exercises on Animal Welfare based on the VETS UNITED Animal Welfare Training Guide, e.g. at the Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust at Makasutu Centre and at animal markets
Conditions in the country: 2 million livestock (Census 2016), especially cattle, goat and sheep, about 12 veterinarians and 66 VPPs; no university education for vets
Development of the project
The project in The Gambia was the first project of the VETS UNITED programme.
Originally offered as a workshop, the animal welfare course has officially been conducted at the academic institutions since the winter semester of 2016. The animal welfare module has been taught at The Gambia College until today and also at the university until 2021. In addition to theoretical lessons, students receive weekly practical exercises with animals in different husbandry systems and in contexts relevant to their profession, such as at markets. In the meantime, animal welfare is officially an accredited component of the Animal Health and Production degree programme at The Gambia College.
Since the winter semester of 2021, the focus of the project has been on the further training of teachers at The Gambia College. Employed lecturers from different departments learn how to teach animal welfare in a systematic and clear way. After completing the training, they will continue to teach animal welfare independently at their institution.
Since 2018, 10 students per year can apply for a scholarship, which supports them with their ongoing study. The scholarship holders must obtain or improve their grades while performing animal welfare related volunteer work alongside their studies.
As a result of Dr Daffeh’s committed work with the students, a group of volunteers called the “Animal Welfare Advocates”, was formed who raise animal welfare awareness through broadcasts, theatre performances, and other educational work nationwide. WTS supported their Sensitization Tour 2019 and 2022. Many of these students also campaigned for more animal welfare in their home villages during the Corona pandemic.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Between 2017 and 2018, the impact of training on the VPPs work was evaluated. The results of the evaluation have shown that the educational approach to improve animal health and animal welfare in The Gambia has achieved its desired outcomes.
All interviewed VPPs reported that they developed a better understanding for the animals and their needs due to the training, and in practice they showed excellent or good skills when treating the animals during examinations, vaccinations and wound management.
Additionally, the VPPs explained that they passed on information about animal welfare and health in different ways to the farmers. They used occasions, like individual conversations, group meetings or other events, to promote animal health and animal welfare or to point out the poor keeping of animals. The interviewed farmers confirmed, that nearly all VPPs talked to them about topics like husbandry, feeding and animal care.