Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind. - Albert Schweitzer
Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa, after Nigeria, with more than 75 million people in 1.2 million square kilometers. Its economy is based largely on agriculture, with the agricultural sector constituting 40 to 46 percent of GDP, 85 percent of employment opportunities, more than 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings, and most of the food supply. Unfortunately, due to rapid population growth and inefficient traditional farming practices, Ethiopia's agricultural production is not sufficient to feed its population.
In Ethiopia, food production, the social fabric, and communities' very survival depend on animal breeding and rearing because crops are cultivated almost entirely using animal power. Each year, about 6 million pairs of oxen are used to cultivate 10 million hectares. In addition, at any given time, the country has about 35 million cattle, 26 million sheep, 21 million goats, 7.1 million equines, 1.2 million camels, 53 million poultry, and large fish and bee industries.
Foot and mouth disease, lumpy skin disease, small ruminant pox, Newcastle disease, Gumboro disease, and other devastating afflictions significantly reduce the life expectancy of these animals. But even though Ethiopia has 50 percent of the horses and mules, 17 percent of the cattle, 15 percent of the donkeys, 12 percent of the sheep, 11 percent of the goats, and seven percent of the camels in Africa, it also has the continent's lowest per-capita number of animal health professionals.
Ethiopia's first veterinary school, established at Debre-Zeit in 1979, has been unable to meet the country's veterinary needs because of low student enrolment. Recognizing the small number of graduating veterinarians and their substandard capabilities, Ethiopia is seeking to establish new veterinary schools, expand existing ones, and improve the country's veterinary curricula to meet national needs and international standards.
Due to socioeconomic factors, Ethiopia's veterinary schools focus mainly on large-animal medicine, providing only limited training in the treatment of small animals such as dogs and cats. Even though Ethiopia has very large dog and cat populations, few of the country's veterinarians have the qualifications necessary to treat these animals.
The International Fund for Africa (IFA) is working to remedy Ethiopia's dire veterinary deficit by helping to establish a comprehensive small-animal curriculum in the country's schools. To accomplish this, IFA is working with U.S. veterinarians experienced in establishing small-animal curricula internationally. IFA is also discussing opportunities with several U.S. veterinary schools to send faculty members to Ethiopia to help create small-animal curricula in the country's schools.
IFA has established a relationship with the Jimma (Ethiopia) University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (JUCAVM), one of Ethiopia's many veterinary schools. In early 2010, after extensive discussions, the two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on correcting Ethiopia's veterinary-medicine deficiencies in the treatment of dogs and cats. Following deliberations with The Humane Society of the United States Veterinary Medical Association Field Services (HSVMA-FS), members of HSVMA-FS agreed to travel to Ethiopia annually to work with JUCAVM on improving its small-animal curriculum.
In January 2011, a team consisting of six HSVMA-FS veterinarians spent a full week teaching Ethiopian veterinarians and veterinary students how to spay and neuter dogs and cats. This team plans to expand its involvement in the training program, and IFA is seeking donations to pay for these veterinarians' transportation to and lodging in Ethiopia. Please consider donating to this crucial cause that is improving the quality of life for the people, dogs, and cats of Ethiopia.
IFA has also established a working relationship with the Club for Animal Welfare (CAW) at Jimma University, a veterinary-student organization whose mission is to promote compassion for animals in Ethiopia. IFA signed a memorandum of understanding with JUCAVM faculty on behalf of CAW in which the faculty agrees to support CAW activities.
IFA will continue supporting universities in Ethiopia, establishing comprehensive small-animal curricula, and promoting compassion for animals among the people of Ethiopia. IFA will also expand these activities to other African countries.
Please help IFA help animals in Africa by joining IFA in funding these projects. Please make your donation today. No amount is too small, and all gifts are greatly appreciated.