The World Land Trust, whose patrons include David Attenborough, has criticised charities that promote livestock as a solution to African poverty, saying the approach leads to overgrazing and habitat degradation. It also called on charities to recognise “the obvious connection” between increases in human population and in carbon emissions.
World Land Trust chief executive John Burton said: “I would take Christian Aid’s interest in the environment more seriously were it not for the fact that they are still encouraging an increase in the number of goats in Africa.
“If Christian Aid was to speak out on human population issues – surely an area in which it has more expertise than carbon emissions – a lot of people might take notice, and it might actually help alleviate poverty in places like Africa. But by ignoring the issue, they are indirectly contributing to the problem.”
Christian Aid’s head of campaigns, Paul Brannen, said Christian Aid only pays for goats after consulting with local organisations, who “know the needs of the community better than anyone else”.
A Christian Aid spokesperson also pointed to the dramatic difference in birth rates between rich and poor countries. “If people can achieve a higher standard of living, they are much less likely to have as many children,” she said. “Fighting poverty is the core remit of Christian Aid. The more we can do to combat poverty, the easier it will be to deal with the increase in population.”