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Chapter 7


Livestock have an important role to play in society; even within cities, they are not only important for the production of food, but also in terms of waste disposal, public health and for social aspects. The social role is particularly important in small-scale animal production, whereas large-scale, industrial and specialized production systems have large problems. They are used mainly for food production, and they generate large amounts of waste if the feed etc. is imported from outside the city. The positive and negative impacts of urban livestock keeping have become increasingly recognized recently, among others because urbanization is increasing rapidly, especially in developing countries. A large proportion of the population in such cities is poor, however, and they often live in marginal neighbourhoods (slums, bidonvilles, pueblos jovenes, favelas). Such people survive through activities aimed at subsistence (for primary needs, such as food and social relations), including growing crops and keeping livestock. The richer investors find a niche for animal production in proximity to markets and availability of specific inputs (agro-industrial by-products, veterinary services). This situation leads to the emergence of specific kinds of medium- and large-scale enterprises in (peri-)urban areas, such as industrial poultry production units and dairy farms for the rich.

Many problems are associated with animal production in cities. However, the side-effects are twofold - animals not only cause pollution, they can also help to clean the city. The perception of problems varies between locations (for instance between developing and Western countries or between large, densely populated cities and open and small towns), between interest groups (livestock versus non-livestock keepers, subsistence and small versus large producers) and different levels of hierarchy. Individuals and families appreciate "nuisances" differently from communities or city councils. Typical concerns in urban livestock keeping include hygiene (diseases transmitted from animals to humans) and pollution, directly caused by livestock (manure, noise, odour) or by processing of livestock products (especially slaughtering, both small- and large-scale, causing considerable water and soil contamination). This document discusses the variety of urban livestock systems and it shows that several techniques are being developed to improve urban livestock systems and, at the same time, limit negative side-effects.

The scope of this document was not to give a comprehensive and exhaustive overview of variations and technologies in urban livestock systems across the globe. Not only would this undertaking have led to a very bulky book, but it would also have been unfeasible within the scope of available funds and time. Urban livestock systems are diverse and subject to a continuous process of change but it is hoped that the publication has shown at least some major determining elements and patterns. Anecdotal examples have been presented instead of "global averages" which do not contribute to an understanding of system dynamics. The study also makes it clear that urban livestock systems are inextricably linked to agricultural production in rural areas and other urban systems, and it aims to enhance interest and insight into the problems ánd opportunities of urban livestock keeping.

An increased interest in urban livestock is being shown by organizations dealing with international research (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research [CGIAR]), several national governments and FAO. Indeed, the publication of this document shows this increased recognition of the need to work on urban agriculture and it complements a series of (electronic) conferences and workshops that have been organized during recent years. Numerous contacts have been established and several networks on urban agriculture are in full swing. Some examples of these are given in Table 22, together with some references to organizations dealing with urban livestock keeping. It is hoped that this publication helps to increase the interest in these issues and to bridge gaps between disciplinary and sectoral approaches.

The keys to the success of development in urban livestock keeping lie - in our view - in:


Organizations and networks on urban agriculture



Web site

International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

PO Box 8500
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9 Canada
Tel. +1 (613) 236 6163
e-mail: [email protected]


Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry (RUAF)

P.O. Box 64
3830 AB Leusden,
The Netherlands
e-mail: [email protected]


Latin American Network on Urban
Agriculture (AGUILA)

Executive Secretary, AGUILA
La Paz Bolivia Red de Investigación
en Agricultura Urbana AGUILA
C. Bella Vista # 650
Casilla: 6254
La Paz, Bolivia
Tel./Fax: +591 2 410218 Ofic.
e-mail: [email protected]
[email protected] 

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