Goat for Gold, not a good idea
Category : Uncategorized
In the last few years–and especially recently–we’ve been hearing a lot about charities that will donate a live farm animal to impoverished people. Some of these include Heifer International, Oxfam, and more recently, the local Goat for Gold:
B.C. businessmen Joel and Danny Nagtegaal were drinking beer and decided last spring to buy one goat for a poor family in Africa each time the Vancouver Canucks won a playoff game. Other Vancouverites decided to do the same thing and 1,073 goats were purchased for African families. Now, the brothers plan to buy a goat for an African family every time a Canadian wins a gold medal. (Goat for Gold No!, Lifeforce Foundation)
Sounds nice, huh? I’ll admit that when I first heard of these sorts of programs, I thought the same thing. But it turns out that the charming photos of children holding cuddly baby animals don’t reflect the full truth of the matter.
“Farming animals is an inefficient, expensive and environmentally destructive way of producing food,” Tyler continued.
“Sceptical readers might accuse me of dressing up a concern about animal welfare as a concern for the world’s poor. There are major animal welfare issues involved in sending animals to, for instance, the Horn of Africa, where earlier this year up to 80% of the cattle perished in a drought. Many of the remainder were washed away in the floods that followed.
But this is not about cows taking precedence over people. Reality is that animal gift schemes are, in the words of the World Land Trust, ‘environmentally unsound and economically disastrous.” (Animal Aid director, Andrew Tyler)
Another point is that two-thirds of the planet–particularly the people who live in poverty-stricken nations–is lactose intolerant. Many of these send-an-animal programs advocate a gift of a cow or a goat, as the animal can be milked (assuming the people can find another animal, for mating purposes) and then slaughtered for her meat. Even without accounting for the numerous health problems associated with dairy, one might think that there is a better way to feed the hungry than with a product they cannot properly digest.
From the Vancouver Humane Society:
- Animal donation programs can fail (and the animals die) because the recipients don’t have the money to afford proper vet care (if it is even available), and donor programs sometimes don’t account for that in their funding (It costs a lot more than people are willing to pay per goat as donors.)
- All farm animals require proper nourishment, large quantities of water, shelter from weather, and veterinary care. It is questionable whether it is worthwhile to devote such resources (in critically short supply in many developing countries) to such an indirect way of feeding people.
- Animal donation programs perpetuate dependency of people on donors (versus working with recipients to address their own needs, be it acquiring animals or seeds or whatever, but by themselves)
- Animal donations are easy for donors and make them feel good, but what is needed more are the less “sexy” things like leadership, peace building, psychosocial assistance, basic business training (how to save money and get where you want to be), and training in how people can help themselves out of poverty.
- Supplying cows, goats and chickens to impoverished people with limited resources can just add to their burden.
- What’s Wrong with the Heifer Project?
- Send-an-Animal Chicken Abuse
- What Happens to Bill Gates’ Dairy Cows? Heifer International is Rolling in Dung
- Goat for Gold No!
And a few groups that feed the hungry without hurting animals: