Seasonal Gifting Campaigns Can Have Unintended Adverse Effects

Scientists Cite Water Insecurity For Their Plea

16 Jan 2022 by The Water Diplomat

Scientists have warned that gifting livestock to developing countries can have adverse effects on local water supplies.

The “Stop Animal Gifting” campaign is supported by over 6000 animal welfare activists and scientists including renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, and aims to highlight the detrimental impact that animal gifting has on food and water scarcity. 

Animal gifting campaigns have become popular Christmas presents in the last decade, but Goodall warns that the well intended gesture actually adds pressure to water strained communities.

In a recent statement, Dr Goodall urged charities to put an end to the widespread seasonal campaigns which have “unintended consequences” and instead promote incentives that fund crop growth, irrigation systems and soil regeneration as an alternative. 

Goodall said: “There are a number of organisations that have launched campaigns, suggesting that one way to help those suffering poverty and hunger is to gift them an animal.

“The animals must be fed and they need a lot of water, and in so many places water is getting more and more scarce thanks to climate change.

“It will be ever so much better to help by supporting plant-based projects and sustainable irrigation methods, regenerative agriculture to improve the soil. Well this means charities must develop plans to create a gift package that will appeal to the generosity of those who want to help those less fortunate than themselves.”

Dr. Richard Oppenlander, a sustainability consultant and author who supports the campaign said that excessive numbers of livestock in some developing countries is crippling to communities affected by food and water security.

Citing Ethiopia as an example, he explained that there are over 50 million cattle consuming food and water despite 60% of the population identified as hungry or starving.

Oppenlander said: “Many countries elsewhere in Africa and in the Amazonian region that suffer from hunger raise cattle inefficiently at the expense of their soil, localized climate, and other resources while producing a fraction of the food they could if converting to plant based foods.”