JKUAT and WAP launch two-year study on animal welfare in Nyeri County

Dr Maina Ngotho shares alight moment with CES James Muturi

Dr. Maina Ngotho of the Department of Animal Science at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is working with the World Animal Protection (WAP) on  a two-year field study in Nyeri County that seeks to address the growing concern of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) estimated to cause a million deaths of humans annually, according to the World Health Organization.

This collaboration, funded by Open Philanthropy, aims to establish a comprehensive framework to address the growing concern of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), while simultaneously improving animal welfare standards. This strategy is expected to lead to the production of quality animal products such as meat and milk that are safe for human consumption under ethical conditions.

The project received the nod to proceed on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 by the County Executive Secretary for Agriculture and Aquaculture, Nyeri County, Mr James Muturi during a meeting in with the two institutions and the county.

The meeting sought to establish a focal point that would act as a link and reference point for wider application and escalation as a public health mitigation measure and ensure the involvement of farmers and technical professionals on the proper use of antimicrobials.

“Nyeri County is committed to this exercise because it complements the Antimicrobial work plan recently launched by the Governor. We are keen on fostering partnerships that will drive this initiative and are ready to support by availing personnel and facilities to provide the required technical support,” said the CES.

According to Dr Ngotho, the formation of County Strategies Intra-Agency Committees (CSAICs) to fight AMR, presents an opportunity to address this message from a One-Health approach by incorporating human and environmental health departments within the county, to avert the estimated one million deaths of humans every year due to the scourge.

The researchers will work with the Nyeri County Antimicrobial Stewardship Interagency Committee to assess the impact of improved animal welfare in local dairy, pig, and aquaculture farms. Dr. Ngotho and his team also aim to develop a high-compliance demonstration farm that could then be upscaled nationally.

The project’s objectives include; assessing existing animal production practices and antimicrobial use, training farmers and animal health practitioners on good animal welfare practices, and monitoring the impact of improved animal welfare on antimicrobial use

In addition, the study aims to lobby for the development of county laws and regulations to safeguard animal welfare and promote responsible antimicrobial use.

Officials from Nyeri County led by CES James Muturi, WAP and JKUAT during the discussions

Through baseline surveys set to commence in April 2024, training sessions that will also include journalists and continuous monitoring, the project aims to establish Nyeri County as a Center of Excellence in animal welfare, while providing valuable insights for national policy development.  The data generated within the project will be critical in informing requisite interventions.

With tens of billions of animals kept in factory farms globally, often in harsh and inhumane conditions, the collaborative tripartite initiative between JKUAT, WAP and Nyeri County marks a proactive milestone towards safeguarding public health and promoting animal welfare.

The project is also expected to mitigate climate change, one of the negative effects of the growing farm factories globally.

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