Jan 19 (IPS) – Most of the world’s poor depend on livestock to survive, but international poverty reduction efforts devote little attention to the health of these animals, experts say.
Animal diseases not only decimate herds and flocks in Africa and Asia, they prevent the sale of animals into the growing markets for meat, milk, eggs and other animal products at home and abroad, according to a policy paper published Friday in the journal Science.
“Livestock are incredibly important to livelihoods and economies of developing countries,” said Brian Perry, a veterinary surgeon at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a Nairobi, Kenya-based independent research centre.
Roughly 70 percent of the world’s poor depend on livestock and for nearly all pastoralists, the animals represent the only real equity they have, Perry, a co-author of the paper, told IPS. “Livestock are walking bank balances,” he noted.
Even more than that, livestock plough fields, thresh grain, provide transport and serve many other functions in Africa and Asia. When disease strikes, it hits very hard.
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