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in Mpwapwa,Tanzania World Animal Day Grant 2015

Click here to see a selection of images taken during the World Animal Day project.


Awarded to: Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

In summary, the World Animal Day grant, sponsored by Naturewatch Foundation, funded a project in the Mpwapwa district in the central part of Tanzania.  Its aim was to improve the health and welfare of working donkeys and bring about permanent change for roaming animals, allowing people and animals to live in harmony.  Veterinary care was provided to donkeys, dogs and cats in respect to vaccination against rabies, sterilisation of dogs and cats, de-worming, wound treatment and all presenting diseases.  

Why the project was needed

In Mpwapwa, a poor rural area with a population of more than 305,000 people, donkeys are essential to the livelihood and wellbeing of the people, yet they are forced to work under unacceptably difficult conditions with no consideration for their health or welfare.  It is dry for most of the year and donkeys are essential for maintaining a supply of water and charcoal to households, and they are also used in farming to carry crops, and sand and gravel for the construction industry.

Donkeys are overworked, beaten and overloaded without the use of a proper harness, resulting in deep wounds that become infected.  They are deprived of veterinary care and, unfortunately, they also fall victim to rabies, which is rampant within the district. Donkeys with rabies are nearly always culled but, in some cases, if the donkeys have become aggressive they are abandoned and left to suffer until paralysis sets in, resulting in death about a week later.

Mpwapwa is also home to approximately 6,000 roaming dogs and 2,000 roaming cats which are treated appallingly and killed due to fear of rabies.  Both animals and people suffer, with the children who walk many kilometres to and from schools being the most affected as they come into contact with many roaming animals.  District policy on stray dog control, and dogs that are owned but roaming, dictates that whenever there’s a report of a dog bite or rabies outbreak, all the roaming dogs in the immediate area are shot by municipal officers.  As no action was being taken to eliminate rabies in the roaming dog/cat population, the people and authorities have been using a variety of barbaric methods to kill them to try and prevent the disease spreading.  In addition, dogs which are terminally ill are brutally killed as they are considered to be a nuisance to the community.

Project Objectives

  1. To conduct a thorough mass vaccination programme against rabies for donkeys, and roaming cats and dogs. 3,000 dogs, 1,000 cats and 1,000, donkeys will be vaccinated to form a barrier, which will slow the spread of rabies until the disease dies out.  All vaccinated animals will be marked to repeat vaccination.
  2. To return annually for three years to conduct further mass vaccination programmes in order to make the region rabies free.
  3. To carry out population control through the spaying and neutering of owned and roaming dogs and cats.  All sterilized animals will be marked.
  4. To conduct a veterinary outreach programme. Sadly, the majority of dogs, cats and donkeys in Mpwapwa do not receive any veterinary care from the moment they are born until the day they die.  This outreach project will end their suffering and pain, treating diseases, infections and injuries they may be enduring.  An added benefit is that, by providing appropriate veterinary care to working donkeys, it will show owners that improved animal health will increase their working efficiency.
  5. To conduct a mass public awareness campaign to.  The programme will improve animal welfare standards, decrease the number of roaming dogs and cats, and reduce incidents of abandonment and neglect of working donkeys.  Through education, the project will improve the livelihoods of people who depend on donkeys.  The programme will also focus upon human diseases derived from animals and how important it is to prevent these animal diseases to safeguard human health.  In addition, the reduced number of rabies cases will, over time, naturally bring about a positive change of attitude towards animals.

    One thousand ‘supporting animal care leaflets’ were printed in Kiswahili.  Click here to view a pdf of the leaflet or here to view a pdf of the English translation.

Project Achievements

Focusing on the benefits to people secured our opportunity to improve the health and welfare of the animals involved.  This comprehensive project eliminates the possibility of rabies being spread to people from cats, dogs and donkeys, thereby removing the reason for the authorities to continue culling them. 

The World Animal Day grant project has already changed the lives of animals and is well on the road towards improving the health and wellbeing of the people living in communities within this disadvantaged region of Tanzania.  It was a real challenge accessing the villages in the Mpwapwa district as it’s a huge area with a diameter of more than 100 kilometres.  The roads are not tarmacked, all are very bumpy and most are eroded.

The District Chief Veterinary Extension Officer, Mr Tumaini, who participated fully throughout the duration of the project, said: “This project has been fantastic in helping the people and animals in the poor, rural village areas of Mpwapwa district.”

Responses to questions presented to Dr Thomas Kahema, Vet and Executive Director of TAWESO:

Question: What did the project achieve?

“We were able to reach a total of 2,438 donkeys, 2,659 dogs and 123 cats.  All the animals received appropriate veterinary care, treatment for wounds and were vaccinated against rabies.  1,086 dogs and 65 cats were sterilised during the project covering 25 villages in the Mpwapwa district.”

Question: Did the project meet its aims/your expectations? Do you feel it was a success?

“Yes the project met our aims/expectations and we feel it was a major success as this is the first time that such a great number of animals have been helped in the Mpwapwa district in such a short time.

Question: When you were speaking with members of the Mpwapwa community when the project was being carried out, what feedback did you receive?

“Everyone was very appreciative of the work we were doing to help the people and animals as never before has a comprehensive and continuous project been carried out covering all villages in the district. 

It brought about a renewed energy from animal owners, the community and authorities towards helping the animals.  It’s fair to say that the first seeds have been sown to make Mpwapwa a better place for animals.”

Question: Now the issue of rabies is being addressed in a comprehensive manner that will eliminate rabies after 3 years and make the region rabies free, do you feel the brutal means of dog depopulation will continue in the interim?

“Huge numbers of people have already started keeping animals well and the concern of seeing rabid dogs and cats roaming the streets has decreased.  It is a great relief to the animals in the district.”

Question: Now the project is over, please can you provide more information about the people who were engaged in the project?

“Each day we had 3 qualified veterinarians, 5 para-veterinary professionals/assistants, 10 Livestock Training College students, 5 extension officers (Livestock and Agricultural Officers in charge of villages).”

Question: Authority engagement - What steps were taken by the authorities to help increase public awareness about the importance of vaccinating against rabies?

“The project benefited from a great deal of support from local government and the village leaders did a great job of informing the community and animal owners about the importance of vaccinating their animals.  Their help ensured a massive turnout in every village because the people already understood the importance of the programme.”

Question: It’s already been agreed with the District Dept. of Livestock and Fisheries Development that once the initial mass rabies vaccination programme was completed, and the World Animal Day grant spent, it would provide a budget to continue the annual mass vaccination programme to make the region rabies free.  Please can you provide more information about this?

“Yes, this has already been agreed.  Additionally, we are delighted that our new government is deeply committed to helping improve the lives of animals and the President, John Magufuli, was once a Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development and is the person who facilitated our Animal Welfare Act of 2008.  Now the initial mass rabies vaccination programme has been completed, and the community is sensitised to the programme, the budget allocation for rabies vaccination will be implemented.

Question: What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

“We faced a number of challenges throughout the duration of the project, for example:

  • Some people arrived at the clinics with their animals very late in the day, almost at closing time, due to the fact they had travelled a great distance to attend.
  • Donkey owners had to collect drinking water in the morning before heading off to attend a clinic.  We were very flexible and helped all the animals brought to the clinics regardless of how late they arrived.
  • We did not have a good camera and were using mobile phones to take photographs.  However, we came to realise that the images were not good enough.  Luckily, we were able to borrow a camera for one day in order to take some good photographs to submit with our report.
  • We planned to carry out the surgeries indoors in classrooms and village halls but the light intensity was so poor that it was not possible.  Our only option was to do the operations outside which was less than ideal but all the animals recovered well.”

Question: What did you learn during the project? Will this affect how you work in the future?

“What we have learnt from the project is that animals in the rural poor areas have more problems and the owners have a preference to provide veterinary care for farm animals (food animals) rather than to working donkeys, and companion animals such as dogs and cats.  As an organisation, we will focus more of our time in future on helping animals in rural settings and also provide more education to encourage owners to take responsibility for the welfare and care of ALL their animals.”

Question: Please describe the highlights of your project and include images

Mass public awareness campaign.  Location: Kisokwe village
Mass vaccination programme against rabies for donkeys, dogs and cats. Location: Kisokwe and Mazae

Provision of veterinary care for animals brought to the clinics.

Location: Kisokwe village

Spay/Neuter of dogs and cats.

Location: Mazae





Click here to view further images taken during the World Animal Day project

TAWESO was able to carry out this comprehensive project as winners of the World Animal Day grant 2015, sponsored by Naturewatch Foundation, UK. 

Message to the supporters of Naturewatch Foundation from Dr Thomas Kahema, Executive Director of the Tanzania Animal Welfare Society:

Your wonderful generosity has helped create a great change of behavior within the community towards animals and bring about a vast improvement in the welfare of dogs, cats and donkeys in the district. You have helped teach the people how to care for their animals properly and greatly changed their attitude towards the roaming cats and dogs.  I thank you most sincerely for your belief in us to make a new page for animals in the Mpwapwa district of Tanzania.