Regulating Africa’s Urban Livestock sector

Friday, August 16, 2019

A large number of African cities are characterized by the constant presence of livestock. From Khartoum in Sudan to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Dakar in Senegal and our own capital city Banjul can be considered as examples of the variety of species of livestock contributions to urban economies and to livelihoods.

Cattle, sheep and goats provide meat and milk, pigs provide pork and poultry provide meat and eggs. Donkeys and horses transport firewood and provide other means of transport. Food producing animals, in addition to their output are used for consumption, make considerable cash contributions to household income when their products are sold.

Therefore, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations call for African governments to regulate urban livestock sector is a timely observation as growing farming sector around African cities poses public health threat if not properly regulated.

Animals in urban areas are, however, a source of conflict and of pollution and may be reservoirs of diseases including zoonoses. The report provides a series of illustrated case studies relating to many aspects of urban livestock and lists some activities that could be undertaken by municipalities to improve urban production systems.

Food insecurity has been a problem and a fact of life in African urban areas, especially for low-income groups, for very many years. The problem was exacerbated with the introduction of structural adjustment. Yet, the potential of urban agriculture, which comprises many subsystems and can be very flexible in operation, to provide food to households and contribute to alleviating hunger could be a huge step towards meeting one of the main Millennium Development Goals.

We therefore join the FAO to emphasise the need for African government to focus on regulating not just the urban livestock sector, but to place high premium on the growth and development of the continent’s agriculture sector. This will enable African countries to be self-sufficient in food production with even surplus for export.

“Our main deal is pastured livestock. So we have beef cattle, pigs, turkeys, laying chickens, meat chickens, rabbit, lamb and ducks - egg-layer ducks.”

Joel Salatin