Policies and legislations are the prerequisites for public and private investment, which can be used to implement programmes and projects. The prevailing agricultural policy environment in most African countries, however, appears to be unfavourable to attract investment in livestock development in general and the provision of efficient, affordable and sustainable veterinary services in particular. The following observations characterise the nature of agricultural policies in Africa:
- Despite livestock's fundamental importance, many agricultural policies focus on the crop sector. It is indicative of livestock's low profile in national planning that Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) contain only general points relevant to the livestock sector. Government policies for the agriculture sector for many years have been targeting food security through increasing cereal crop production, and have incorporated livestock primarily in terms of its contribution to crop production.
- Where livestock policies have been formulated, they tend to be based on poor levels of information and analysis, and are generally formulated without participation from key stakeholders, most notably the poor and the private sector.
- At this time of globalisation, agricultural/livestock policies need to embrace major concerns of the global community, such as food safety and the transmission of diseases from animals to humans (zoonoses). Globally, animal health systems are becoming increasingly a 'global public good'. Failure of one country to prevent and control zoonoses or animal diseases may endanger others. To address this concern, the global community is pursuing the "One Health (OH)" approach. The approach envisions a global partnership aimed at minimising the impact of epidemics and pandemics caused by highly infectious diseases of humans and animals, thereby improving public health, animal health, food safety, food security, livelihoods and the environment.
It is therefore clear that change is required to review/change livestock policies towards contributing to the development agenda through tapping livestock resources. That is why policies and legislations have constituted a central place in the Reinforcing Veterinary Governance in Africa (VET-GOV) Programme.