Manneken Pis will be dressed as a West African livestock farmer today – and will be urinating real milk. Through this action, organised on the occasion of World Milk Day, the Belgian NGO Vétérinaires sans frontières wants to draw attention to the plight of West African dairy farmers.
Milk is an important source of income for these farmers, according to Vétérinaires sans frontières. According to the NGO, 60% of the population of West Africa lives off livestock and agriculture. Animals such as cows and goats provide milk, fertiliser, and income.
“Milk is one of the few sources of protein for disadvantaged families in rural Africa. A lack of milk leads to malnutrition. Milk therefore plays an essential role in the fight against famine and poverty. In dry and desert areas, livestock farming is often the only way to survive,” said Josti Gadeyne, the organisation’s spokesperson.
While a Belgian cow produces an average of 25 to 35 litres of milk per day, an African cow produces 2 to 3 litres at best. During the dry season, they even produce less than 1 litre due to a lack of water, grass and animal care.
“The little milk that West African farmers can sell earns them almost nothing. European milk surpluses are flooding and disrupting the local market. It is not even real milk, but skimmed milk powder, fortified with virtually everything except sustainable palm oil. This milk is three times cheaper than that of local farmers. If the European Union continues to get rid of its milk surpluses in West Africa, it will push local farmers even further into poverty,” said Ms Gadeyne.