Animal Advocacy Africa: Research Outcomes and Pilot Plans

by AnimalAdvocacyAfrica10 min read21st Jun 2021No comments

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Animal Advocacy AfricaFarmed animal welfare
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In December last year, we announced a new EA project on the forum: Animal Advocacy Africa (AAA). Now, we are excited to share some updates on the progress of our work!

AAA is a capacity-building program which aims to support advocates and organisations to develop and grow the animal advocacy movement in Africa.

We just completed our six-month research phase surveying African animal advocacy organisations, individual advocates, experts, and funders. The purpose of this research was to identify a promising capacity-building intervention to overcome some of the obstacles African animal advocacy organisations face in their work. Our research identified a lack of funding as one of the largest bottlenecks for African animal advocacy organisations. Therefore, our chosen intervention aims to connect and help African animal advocacy organisations with funding, and will be implemented from July onwards. 

In this post, we outline the findings of our research, why and how we chose our pilot intervention, organisational updates and our plans for the coming months.

Research Outcomes

We completed three reports as a result of our research phase:

  • Two landscape research reports, outlining the findings from our conversations with animal advocacy organisations, individual advocates, experts, and funders
  • A strategic report explaining our approach in deciding which group of animals to prioritise in our work

Below, we provide a short summary of these reports and their main findings. However, we strongly recommend interested readers to read the full reports for more information.

Landscape Reports

The purpose of our landscape research was to:

  • Connect with existing African animal welfare organisations and individual advocates
  • Better understand what these organisations are doing, i.e. their interventions and focus areas
  • Identify obstacles they have encountered, and what they need as organisations to become more effective
  • Understand funders’ interest in channelling more funding towards the African animal advocacy movement

We believe the reports may be useful to: 

  • Funders who are interested in identifying funding opportunities in Africa
  • The wider animal advocacy community, who may be interested in learning more about the animal welfare landscape in Africa
  • Participating organisations, to better understand which difficulties are common or unusual, so that they can better coordinate with other organisations and understand where it would be helpful to seek or offer advice

Overall, we engaged with 51 individuals across 13 African countries:

  • 22 animal advocacy organisations (a list of organisations we have spoken to can be found here)
  • 11 individual advocates, 5 of whom identified as effective altruists
  • 10 experts, 7 of whom are experts based in Africa
  • 8 international funders

Executive summary - findings from funders:

In this report, we describe funders’ understanding of and attitude towards the African animal advocacy landscape. We find that most funders indicate an interest in channelling more funding to African animal advocacy work. However, funders have reservations about doing so considering the lack of information about funding opportunities that are promising, in addition to the more general knowledge gap when it comes to understanding the most effective type of intervention in Africa. We attempted to address these uncertainties through our landscape research with organisations, individual advocates, and experts. Questions we did not address were added to our research agenda.

Executive summary - findings from animal advocacy organisations, individual advocates and experts:

In this report, we detail our findings from conversations with animal advocacy organisations, individual advocates, and experts to better understand the animal advocacy movement in Africa. We outline the current programs/interventions of the organisations we interviewed, including the animal populations they are advocating for, their geographic reach, network and collaborations, as well as decision-making strategies. In addition, we enquired about the obstacles advocates face in their work and their interest in receiving support to overcome these challenges. The report also details expert views on the African animal advocacy landscape and what can be done to increase the effectiveness of this nascent and growing movement. It emphasises the need for a wide variety of approaches, as a one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to work for the entire continent.

Prioritisation Report

The purpose of our prioritisation research was to:

  • Clarify the strategic priorities of our work
  • Yield insights into the current animal advocacy landscape in Africa with regards to the different types of animals
  • Highlight crucial aspects that need to be considered in communications and practical implementation of interventions

We believe it may be useful to: 

  • New and/or existing African/international animal advocacy organisations deciding on a program/intervention
  • Funders looking for promising funding opportunities
  • Individual advocates thinking about which area to dedicate their resources (time/effort/money) towards to effectively help animals

Executive summary - prioritisation report:

There are a wide variety of animals and animal populations that African animal advocacy groups aiming to improve animal welfare can focus their efforts on. Given a scarcity of resources, it is essential to narrow our focus to those areas where we expect to do the most good. This report demonstrates why we prioritise farmed animals over wild, companion, and working animals. We believe now is an optimal time to help farmed animals, a neglected group whose welfare can be improved cost-effectively. Our evaluation is based on nine criteria, aggregated in a weighted factor model to measure our potential to improve welfare in each animal category. The criteria are weighted subjectively based on their estimated importance for impact, and the likelihood that each criterion will result in the failure of our project or interventions.

Pilot Intervention

Our research identified a lack of funding as one of the largest bottlenecks for African animal advocacy organisations. Therefore, we plan to pilot an intervention to build capacity and increase funding for promising organisations. Our hypothesis is that more funding may increase organisations’ effectiveness, thereby helping more animals in relatively neglected geographic regions. We plan to prepare organisations to a stage where they are ready for more funding, so funders are confident in the impact of their work.

We decided on this intervention based on:

  • Interviews with 11 experts, including funders and other capacity-building organisations
  • Surveys of 12 African animal advocacy organisations about the type of support they think is most helpful to receive
  • A weighted factor model scoring potential interventions across 13 factors (more details about our methodology can be found in the appendix)

During our three-month pilot, we plan to provide 1-on-1 support to 10 randomly selected “treatment” organisations, with 10 others in our control group. Support will include: 

  • Developing a public database of capacity-building opportunities (including funding, mentorship/training, learning resources, research support, outsourced help) that African animal advocacy organisations can pursue to improve their effectiveness
  • Researching the fit and alignment of funding opportunities with organisations by understanding funder preferences
  • 1-1 feedback and advice on organisations’ fundraising strategies and applications, as well as non-funding capacity-building recommendations where required
  • If needed, helping organisations set up technical financial infrastructures to receive funding

The purpose of our pilot is to: 

  • Determine whether this intervention can feasibly work, and how useful it is in building the capacities of animal advocacy organisations we are supporting
  • Identify the limiting factors or barriers that may result in the intervention being less impactful than we anticipated, and understand if/how we should overcome them
  • Determine whether we should scale up this intervention, maintain the intervention at a small scale, pivot to a new intervention, or shut down the project entirely

We will measure the impact of the program through intermediate metrics (e.g. amount of funding received by organisations) by conducting pre- and post-implementation surveys, and independent operational audits. If the pilot is successful, we will scale up to help more African organisations. As our intervention model is flexible, we may also replicate it to address similar funding constraints in the global south, e.g. Asia, without incurring a lot of operational cost.

Organisational Updates

Next to our work on research and pilot implementation, we are continuously developing our organisation. Here are some important updates:

  • We are in the process of hiring a program manager in Africa to help us implement our pilot program
  • We've hired two interns in Kenya
  • We added three advisors from Africa to our advisory board to advise us on the research, communications and legal aspects of our project
  • We developed an empowerment policy to ensure our commitment to representation and leadership within Africa
  • We reviewed our organisational challenges and mistakes and made a post on improvements we are working towards

Next Steps

We plan to begin implementation of our pilot intervention in July and a detailed plan is currently in development. While we feel confident about our choice, we naturally remain open to pivoting our efforts in cases of unforeseen circumstances and will monitor our progress to evaluate our decision.

In the meantime, if you are interested in supporting our initiative:

  • We are seeking funding to complete our three-month pilot program.
  • We are currently hiring! We are looking for a program manager from Africa to help us implement our pilot program.
  • We also welcome any feedback on our work and introductions to relevant connections.

Please feel free to post your questions or comments below or reach out to us directly at hello@animaladvocacyafrica.org. Thank you for your time and feedback!

Appendix

Our decision-making process for our pilot intervention

To find the most promising intervention, we used an iterative approach and considered various perspectives. Firstly, we brainstormed an extensive list of potential interventions, drawing on our research and the many conversations we had with animal advocacy organisations, individual advocates, experts and funders. We further structured this list by identifying overarching themes and consolidating related ideas. To narrow down the number of potential interventions, we discarded interventions that organisations we interviewed during the research process were least interested in. For example, recruiting potential hires or volunteers, and helping to create healthy and sustainable workplace cultures and structures were removed from our list. This left us with a final list of seven potential interventions: connecting organisations with funders; providing financial structures; coordinating communication between organisations; providing mentorship and training; providing research support; providing infrastructure and hardware support; providing outsourced help.

These potential interventions were then scrutinised in more detail. Employing a weighted factor model of our subjective evaluations along six dimensions (cost-effectiveness, neglectedness, scalability, size/prevalence of the issue, logistical difficulty, and metric focus), we removed three interventions that were least promising. While we completely discarded infrastructure and hardware support as well as outsourced help, we integrated the provision of financial structures into the more general financial intervention of connecting organisations with funders. The remaining four interventions are explained below:

InterventionExamples of activities
Helping and connecting African animal advocates and organisations with funding
  • Developing a public database of capacity-building opportunities (including funding, mentorship/training, learning resources, research support, outsourced help) for African animal organisations
  • Researching the fit and alignment of funding opportunities with organisations by understanding funder preferences
  • Providing 1-1 support to help organisations with fundraising
  • If needed, helping organisations set up technical financial infrastructures to receive funding
  • Vetting organisations for donor funding and introducing EA concepts
Creating a communications, knowledge sharing and networking platform for advocates and organisations
  • Providing step-by-step guides, best-practices, practical resources, templates, etc.
  • Providing networks of change makers working on similar projects as well as potential funding opportunities
  • Organising conferences, monthly discussions, and/or hosting a directory of relevant events

Providing mentorship and training to upskill advocates and staff working at animal welfare organisations


 

  • Matching organisations/advocates with relevant advisors/mentors in a specific area that they want to become better at
  • Training ourselves to become good at the specific skill before mentoring organisations
  • Organising incubation programs
  • Providing learning materials/resources

Providing strategic research support to African animal advocacy organisations to identify high-impact interventions


 

  • Comparing interventions, social/cultural elements of animal welfare etc. (see our research agenda) or conducting any other research proposed by organisations that may be valuable
  • Teaching organisations how to do strategic research themselves

To reach a decision among these four alternatives, we widened our weighted factor model to include thirteen dimensions (the six listed above plus evidence base, flexibility, timing, talent availability, funding availability, risk of negative/no impact, and flow-through effects). Aggregating the ratings given by four team members, the funding intervention emerged as a clear winner and was decided on unanimously. This intervention addresses one of the largest bottlenecks we identified during our research, namely funding constraints, and seems relatively simple and cost-effective to implement. Additionally, it benefits from high flexibility, allowing us to address other important issues at the same time (e.g. potentially vetting organisations and helping them to improve their effectiveness).

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