Introducing Animal Advocacy Africa

by AnimalAdvocacyAfrica6 min read7th Dec 202010 comments

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Research MethodsFarmed Animal Welfare
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We’re excited to introduce a new EA project: Animal Advocacy Africa!

Animal Advocacy Africa (AAA) aims to develop a collaborative and effective animal advocacy movement in Africa. We plan to do this by engaging organisations and individual advocates within farmed animal advocacy in Africa and using this engagement to seek cost-effective opportunities to help animals. We aim to achieve this via a two-stage process:

  • Six-month research phase: Identifying which barriers are holding the animal advocacy movement back in Africa, and which interventions can most effectively address these barriers. We have contacted organisations in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland.
  • Six-month pilot phase: Implementing a pilot program based on our findings, which we can later scale up in African countries that seem promising to work in (e.g. because there are existing organisations working there that we could support). If we can’t find a strong pilot candidate that we can scale, we plan to pivot to an alternative approach.

AAA is a program of Credence Institute, a South African non-profit dedicated to advancing the interests of animals. The team at Credence has over a decade’s worth of experience in animal advocacy and the meat alternatives space in Africa, developing relationships with people from the EA community, industry, academia, and the animal sciences along the way. We can draw upon these relationships, and those of its associates’, board, and volunteers, to engage key stakeholders in the animal advocacy movement, both in Africa as well as abroad.

This idea was refined during Charity Entrepreneurship’s incubation program and is led by Lynn Tan (Director of Research) and Cameron King (Director of Operations), who were in the program along with Brett Thompson (Advisor). Our other founding team member is Jenna Hiscock (Director of Partnerships Development). Since then, we have received a grant of $40,000 from the Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund to begin and maintain the research phase of our initiative for six months. 

Why Africa?

Below, we examine working on animal advocacy in Africa through the ITN framework:

Importance: 

Africa is currently home to approximately 3.2 billion land-based farm animals and given its rising population and urbanisation — significant factors driving demand for livestock products — a shift toward intensive animal farming practices looks inevitable. According to the FAO, global annual meat production in Africa will reach 35 million tonnes by 2030, which would be an increase of 22 million since 2015. Given the negative impact of intensive animal agriculture on the lives of animals — restricted movement, mutilation without pain relief, death from dehydration, and more horror — finding ways to improve, displace, and prevent this practice should be a global concern. Yet, when it comes to animal advocacy, Africa is being left behind — both in terms of research and funding relative to the number of farmed animals. 

We want to prevent future animals from coming into a life of suffering. Ensuring that African countries do not commit to the same path of animal cruelty is part of our mission. To accomplish this, we believe the African animal advocacy space will have to attract more funding and become more effectiveness-minded — two mutually reinforcing elements. 

Tractability: 

We think interventions that have optimal timing should be prioritised over those that do not or those that could be more effectively implemented at a different time. This would mean targeting countries with low but growing animal production rates such as those in Africa. Acting preemptively, in this case banning intensive animal farming practices while they are still small-scale or have yet to be introduced, may be more tractable than addressing the issue once it has been established. It will be harder to run a corporate campaign or pass a government law in order to change the standards once factory farming practices become the norm. 

Historical evidence of comparable efforts in other contexts seems to suggest that animal advocacy and EA capacity-building work within and beyond Africa has been successful, or at least demonstrated promise. Examples of this include community-building work carried out by the Centre for Effective Altruism in supporting local EA groups, or that of the Open Wing Alliance in providing training and resources for their member organisations. 

Familiarity with EA in Africa is low (based on the number of local EA groups), suggesting a large impact could be made by increasing awareness of EA principles to organisations working in the animal advocacy space. A simple idea could be to provide advice, mentorship or training on improving animal welfare effectively based on evidence, which would be a low-cost intervention with a likely high impact.

We speculate that there is an opportunity for high leverage in setting the trajectory of the nascent effective animal advocacy movement in Africa. Provided that we can embed good practices and norms in the community, there is potential to substantially increase the efficiency of the movement, and increase its overall chance of success by adapting the lessons learned from the wider animal advocacy movement. 

Neglectedness: 

Given the lack of organisations dedicated to improving the effectiveness of animal NGOs in Africa both at the continent and national level, it may be possible to pick low-hanging fruits early on. 

Relative to the number of farmed animals on the continent, Africa remains neglected when it comes to funding. Compared to other regions of the world, animal advocacy initiatives received only $80,000 in funding from EA sources that we are aware of since January 2019 (this includes the recent $40,000 we received). For every land farmed animal, Africa receives between 2 and 115 times less than other geographic regions, except for Southeast Asia receiving the same amount as Africa. While there is currently a shortage of effective animal organisations to fund, we think that this presents an opportunity for action.

There is an indication of a lack of animal welfare in Africa and many acknowledge the need for better practices. Therefore, we aim to connect with existing African animal welfare organisations and individuals, research the obstacles they have encountered with their advocacy efforts, and identify what they need to become more effective. 

Our Plan

Our current plan consists of two stages: research and implementation. As we are not fully certain of the tractability of effective animal advocacy in the context of Africa and the most effective theory of change to address bottlenecks, we will spend the first half of the year conducting research to determine top potential interventions. We will spend the following six months conducting pilots according to our research findings. Depending on capacity and outcomes of our impact evaluation, we intend to scale the intervention(s) or pivot if necessary.

Research

We will conduct exploratory research to address knowledge gaps related to the state of animal advocacy in populous low and middle-income countries in Africa: 

  • What is being done?
  • What are the barriers holding the movement back from developing?
  • What could be done to support individual advocates and organizations?

We aim to conduct a multi-country scoping review by surveying: 

  • 10-20 animal advocacy organisations across all five African regions because of their social, political and economic diversity
  • 30-50 individual animal advocates, state veterinarians, researchers, and government officials
  • 15 African effective altruists

We have identified over 50 relevant individuals in the movement for the surveying process, which has already started, with 12 interviews concluded.

We also plan to conduct a systematic literature review of animal agriculture in Africa based on factors such as geographic region to understand the role and centrality of region-specific animal agriculture and animal welfare practices. We will publish our findings on our website so that other organisations or individuals working in animal advocacy in Africa can use them.

Implementation

Our survey analysis and literature review together will inform our implementation of the most promising intervention, which we will evaluate using cost-effectiveness analyses and weighted factor models, to select for their scalability, cost-effectiveness, and tractability. We may pilot a second intervention if we discover that two interventions can easily be done simultaneously or synergistically, especially if we secure more funding. 

Broadly, potential interventions and audiences/stakeholders include: 

Potential interventions:

  • Support to increase cost-effectiveness
    • Identifying interventions
    • Offering infrastructure support
    • Offering learning materials
    • Mentoring or advising on careers, productivity, decision-making, accountability with funding, strategic planning, EA principles, research, etc
  • Movement building
    • Connecting stakeholders with each other
    • Connecting stakeholders with funding or funding opportunities

Potential audiences/stakeholders: 

  • Existing local animal advocacy organisations
  • Local unaffiliated activists and individual stakeholders
  • International animal advocacy organisations and funders

Both interventions could each apply to all three groups of audiences. We will evaluate our impact through expert interviews, cost-effectiveness analyses, surveys/focus groups, and independent operational audits to understand the counterfactual impact. 

We plan to collaborate with existing international animal advocacy organisations. OWA has existing efforts in Africa through cage-free work, and collaborating with them could increase the impact of organisations within their alliance. We could implement interventions OWA would like to do, but with more or better Africa-specific understanding and connections. 

Ultimately, AAA intends to help advocates and organisations develop and grow the animal advocacy movement in Africa to improve farmed animal welfare and prevent intensive agricultural practices.

How You Can Help 

Advisors: We are currently looking for mission-aligned individuals from the effective altruism and animal advocacy communities who have an interest in our work to join our advisory board. Specifically, we are seeking advisors who have connections or in-country animal advocacy experience in Africa beyond South Africa. 

Hires: To ensure representation within Africa and build a solid network, we aim to integrate individuals from the continent beyond South Africa into the leadership team as soon as possible. Therefore, we intend to hire a Program Director in 2021 who will help develop AAA’s overall strategic direction in Africa and oversee stakeholder relations. We will publish more information regarding this vacancy early next year. Please sign up to our newsletter if you wish to be notified of this opportunity.

Funding: The Effective Altruism Animal Welfare Fund has awarded us a grant of $40,000, which will enable our organisation to operate for the first six months. Depending on the nature of the intervention during the pilot phase, we will seek at least $40,000 from March 2021 to support the operational costs of testing a scalable, cost-effective and tractable intervention for a further six months. 

Feedback: We greatly value your feedback, ideas and connections, particularly at this early stage. Please feel free to post your questions or comments below or reach out to us directly at hello@animaladvocacyafrica.org.

Further Information

Thank you for your time and feedback!

Thank you to Jamie Harris who helped us with our project proposal, which formed the bulk of this content, and to Jack Rafferty and Aaron Gertler who provided feedback on this post. All mistakes and views expressed in this post are our own.

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Congratulations! This is a very much needed research project. I've seen orgs scaling up to i.e. SA without any research, which resulted in not very successful programs. I also know very little about animal movement in African countries, so really looking forward to your reports.

Thank you Ula! 

This is great! I hope the first stages go well and look forward to hearing more!

Thank you so much Jamie! 

This is awesome! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your progress.

Thank you Ben! 

Hello, I'd like to respectfully request information about the ProVeg Grants Program, our plans, and the incorrect link be removed from this article. The ProVeg Grants Program is not involved in this project and did not give authorization for our information to be used in this proposal or shared in this article. Thank you greatly.

I don't think I understand? This article doesn't seem to say anything that isn't publicly available about the ProVeg grants program, and doesn't seem to claim any affiliation with it.

Hi Habryka, I'm happy to further clarify. Before our details were removed, this article stated they "plan to collaborate with existing international animal advocacy organisations...." including ProVeg Grants Program, however, there are no collaboration plans between ProVeg Grants Program and AAA, the article provided information about ProVeg Grants Program's 2021 plans that has not yet been publicly released, and we did not give permission for our information to be included in this proposal (additionally, the link was incorrect and our name was spelled incorrectly).  I hope this helps your understanding & I'm happy to answer any additional questions. 

As per our email discussion Jessika and to respond in this public forum.

Thanks for bringing your concerns to our attention. All information related to AAA and ProVeg has been removed.

Let me first start off by saying that our intention was in no way to provide false information. The forum post was created to let the EA community know our plans and the types of partners we intended to work with. While readying organisations in Africa for programs such as incubators and accelerators - which we referenced ProVeg. If this information was done in a way that you found misleading or if this information was not publicly available - I apologise and take full responsibility for it.

We will ensure that we do not make this mistake in the future.

Brett