We kicked off December with the launch of a brand new project in partnership with Brooke, an international equine welfare charity. The idea behind the project is that healthy and well cared for working animals and livestock are more productive, meaning that the rural families that depend on them for their livelihoods are more prosperous; and prosperous households have more money to spend on the health and welfare of their animals - a virtuous cycle that improves the lives of animals and owners alike.

The situation in Afghanistan

The vast majority of rural Afghan families rely on animals for their food, livelihoods, and transportation. Despite this, few have the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to properly care for them. This is not only seriously detrimental to the well-being of the animals, it also reduces their productivity, which has a damaging effect on the incomes of poor families.

Another challenge in poor and remote areas of Afghanistan is there is a shortage of vets, and the few there often lack proper training. This further exacerbates the problem of poor animal welfare.

Our response

Over the next three years, we will work with farmers and vets in four districts in Daykundi province to address these challenges. Our project team will use Brooke’s innovative Animal Health Mentoring Framework to mentor a vet in each district, giving them the in-depth and specialised training they need to provide essential animal health services to farmers. But it is not enough to just improve the quality of local animal health services; we also need to raise demand for these services within the communities. To do this, we will work with 4,000 farmers - 2,000 women and 2,000 men - to improve their understanding of the benefits of investing in the health of their animals by using veterinary services. We will also establish linkages between the farmers and the vets in each district.

To further improve animal welfare, we will also deliver training to the 4,000 farmers in different aspects of animal husbandry. They will learn about appropriate animal handling, the housing and feeding of their animals, how to identify diseases, and when to seek treatment.

However, improved veterinary services and knowledge of animal husbandry, alone, is not enough. Poor farmers must also be supported to strengthen their livelihoods so that they have the money to invest in these things. To enable this, Afghanaid’s experts in rural livelihoods will provide the farmers with the tools and technical training to increase the quantity and quality of their produce and establish links to markets, thereby increasing their incomes.

The farmers will be encouraged to put their new knowledge and skills into practice by spending a portion of their increased incomes on the health and welfare of their livestock. In turn, these healthier animals will further strengthen the livelihoods of the farmers, resulting in a reduction in poverty among these rural communities.

Working together for a brighter future

Through this integrated approach we will improve the health and welfare of the animals, as well as the lives of the families who own them, lifting whole communities out of poverty and building a stronger future for animals and their owners alike.