Decolonization in the Animal Health Sector

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What is decolonisation?

Decolonisation in the simplest terms is “when a colony controlled by another country becomes independent”. This however can be applied in a wider sense to “restorative justice through cultural, psychological and economic freedom”. In global health we look at this as “work to address the prevalence and perpetuating of colonial power dynamics”

Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

Chinua Achebe

Decolonisation in Animal Health

The London International Development Centre have a good explanation of the reasons why this is important to decolonise Animal Health:

“There have been numerous conversations about ‘decolonisation’ in global health and international development, but these conversations are only just beginning within the veterinary sector. There are many ways in which the veterinary sector needs to consider decolonisation. The relationship between vets / animal health professionals in the global north and the global south has been impacted by colonialism and the impact this has on animal health and disease. There is a predominance of a de-localised agenda setting for animal health initiatives, whereby veterinary decision-makers in the global north dictate how animal industries should operate in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin Americas. This is commonly along geographical axes that mirror paths of colonialism. Even when these agendas take into account aspects of the local context, they are almost always founded on the patriarchal assumption that the policy makers (usually based in the Global North) know what is best for that setting. This results in embedded inequities within the sector, which includes “parachute” and “parasitic” research, where researchers are able to extract research-related data and labour from a country and use that to advance their own agendas and careers, limiting the opportunities for countries to benefit equally.

The lucrative overseas veterinary ‘volunteer industry’ propagates the narrative that those volunteering, and by extension veterinary work in their home countries, are both superior and necessary, meaning that local animal healthcare providers are rarely, if ever acknowledged as professional equals.”

Some useful resources to read regarding decolonisation:

•Beyond pledges: academic journals in high-income countries can do more to decolonise global health:

•Introduction to the Special Issue: Decolonizing Animal Studies:

•Pragmatic approaches to decolonising global health in Africa:

•Research colonialism still plagues Africa:

•White Supremacy in Global Health:

•Animal Welfare in Different Human Cultures, Traditions and Religious Faiths:

For more information on Decolonisation, please see our resource section