AWAAG Trains Stakeholders on Animal Welfare

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By Sariba Manneh 

Animal Welfare Advocates Association of The Gambia (AWAAG) has called on stakeholders to have social and behavioral communication change towards animals, because they are creatures that need care as well. 

The association last Saturday brought together stakeholders at the Department of Education’s Regional Office in Brikama in the West Coast Region (WCR), for a two-day capacity building training attended by over one hundred participants who were drawn from across all the regions of the country.

Muhamed Hazaly Bah, the president of AWAAG, said the main objective of the training is to encourage people to have sympathy for animals, saying animal welfare is something new in the country and people are not sensitised about it. He called on Gambians to treat their animals freely and fairly because they also need proper care and protection, noting that animals are very important in their daily activities.

Bah said the main challenge they are faced with is lack of awareness on the welfare of animals. He called on institutions, individuals and organisations to support them in this endeavour because they cannot do it alone. He therefore assured their commitment to continue efforts toward raising awareness on animal welfare in the Gambia.

Dr. Kebba Daffeh, a lecturer on animal health and welfare at the University of The Gambia, said the objective of the training is to raise awareness in the Gambia about the welfare of animals. He said the training is set to reflect on the importance and the welfare of animals in their daily life, and to reflect on the diversity of different species of animals that exist in the world.

According to Dr. Daffeh, animals should be given the right treatment they deserve from people as they are aware of their environment, and said they can register positive and negative emotion.

Dr. Mustapha Manneh, the head of disease prevention and control at the Department of Livestock and Services who represented his Director, said the training was indeed timely. He noted that when it comes to animal welfare, the Gambia has a long way to go because ‘a lot of advocacy programmes on animals are ongoing’ but still they do not have enough data on how far the message has gone with the people. He said this is where social-behavioral change communication comes into play.

Taking this into consideration, Dr. Manneh said AWAAG wants to see changes in social behavior in communication in people’s mindset and behavior towards animals. He said there are some places in The Gambia that are referred to as animal welfare friendly communities, calling for their recognition. It includes Madina Sancha in Kiang East, Willingara Ba in Jarra East and Pakali Ba in Jarra East. 

“We want to have more of such places because our objective is to make the Gambia an animal welfare and friendly nation,” Dr. Manneh said. He applauded the organizer of the program for involving a large number of stakeholders and by inviting the Department of Livestock to talk about animal welfare and activities in the Gambia. The department, he added, is one of the biggest stakeholders when it comes to animal activities in the country, noting that whenever they are drafting manuals about inspection, the department always makes it a duty to incorporate animal welfare in their activities. 

Fatou Drammeh from NaNA, who is also one of the trainers, dilated on the importance of animal welfare saying it requires protecting and preventing them from danger. She said NaNA has always been at the forefront of communication when it comes to animal welfare and they are proud to be associated with anything that has something to do with the welfare of animals.

Meanwhile, the animal welfare capacity building training program started on the 11th and ended on the 12th of May 2024.