Thursday, 18 September 2008

The goat season approaches

Last year the Environment Funders Network published a report "Where the Green Grants Went". And I presume it represents the interests of the Trusts and Foundations that make up the Environment Funders Network. In this report, one of the more bizarre pieces of information I came across was that these environmental funders had given grants totalling £1.3 million over a three year period to Farm Africa, an organisation that specialises in promoting livestock use in Africa. And in particular 'sells' goats and other livestock as a way of fundraising. Now any reader of this column will know that I have railed against this for several years. Promoting livestock in Africa, is about as environmentally irresponsible as one can get. The number of goats, cows, sheep, camels and other livestock has spiralled over the past half century, and habitat degradation is a direct result. So the question is how is funding organisation that promotes expanding the keeping of livestock and green?

I will, once again, urge everyone to question the agencies involved, as to why they see fit to encourage more and more livestock in Africa, in the full knowledge that one of the main causes of environmental damage is overgrazing by livestock, and it has a direct correlation with poverty. And also ask all the agencies involved to produce the Environmental Impact Assessments they carried out before dishing out more livestock. Finally, they could be asked about the studies carried out as to the likely socio-economic perturbations caused by hand-outs of livestock.

I know the answer to some of these questions: very few environmental impact assessments have ever been carried out, and very little information about the social impacts of the hand outs has been published. The aid agencies and charities should be held to account.

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