Frequently asked questions
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières in Belgium
In Belgium, our activities are focused on communication, fundraising and education to promote global citizenship and solidarity. Our objective is to help Belgian citizens understand the principles of the One Health concept and its potential in the fight against global challenges such as poverty, inequalities and health and environmental crises. We want to encourage people to actively support livestock-dependent communities in Africa so that those communities can apply the One Health principles.
Students taking higher educational degrees in agriculture and veterinary sciences are a prime target audience for our information, awareness-raising and mobilisation activities in Belgium. You will find more information about our range of educational activities below.
We do not send veterinary materials to Africa. In fact, we do not have the human, financial or logistical resources to transport them from Belgium to the areas where we work. Our local teams are not able to provide the required training in the proper use of equipment such as ultrasound or X-ray machines, let alone to deal with maintenance and repairs.
In addition, the private veterinary services set up with our support already have the materials and medicines appropriate to their context. The materials used in Belgium do not always correspond to local needs.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium in the field
We work in partnership with local governmental bodies in each country where we are active. These good relationships enable us to fulfil our mission to support livestock-keeping communities under the best possible conditions.
In the field, each of our national teams works systematically with one or more local partners, with the aim of mutually strengthening our capacities. Our partners’ in-depth understanding of the local context and its challenges guarantees that we can act as effectively as possible to benefit the populations. These organisations are well-established and recognised within local civil society, which also gains us better acceptance in the communities we target. Likewise, they ensure that our projects are sustainable in the long term, after they end.
You are welcome to consult the list of our local partners on our country pages under the “What We Do” tab.
The objective of most of our activities is development, and these activities run for several months or years. They enable us to tackle structural problems faced by livestock-keeping populations.
In parallel, we also run emergency activities. These interventions happen when protracted or sudden crises occur, such as flooding, droughts or outbreaks of animal disease. Our goal in these projects is to help populations with an immediate, basic need. These activities generally take place over a shorter period (a few months) and are only initiated in the countries where we already work. In practice, our support may take the form of food aid, the protection of livelihoods (livestock) or help with accessing essential services.
For many years, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium has worked exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa, in regions where livestock keepers are vulnerable to climate change and conflict. The specific context of this geographical area is where we have built up our expertise. We currently work in nine countries in the region. It is possible that we extend our activities around this area in the future. However, we have no intention to work on other continents, since the differences in context are too great. Nevertheless, other sections of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium do work in Latin America and Asia.
The choice of our areas of intervention is often linked to the funding criteria of our donors. Where this is not the case, these areas are decided upon with our local partners, based on the nature of the proposed activities and local needs. For example, if the goal of our activity is to improve livestock keepers’ resilience, we will take account of local indicators of malnutrition and poverty to decide where to intervene as a matter of priority. If our objective is to strengthen a value chain, we will choose the region with the greatest development potential in this sector.
In certain cases, we may consider working with new local partners. If an organisation wishes to propose a partnership in one of the countries where we work, it can apply to our directors in the country in question.
Please note that in order to be eligible, the organisation must at least:
- Be accredited and officially recognised;
- Have its administration in order;
- Have a physical headquarters;
- Have up-to-date internal procedures;
- Employ non-project staff (at least one person), who are not members of the board of directors;
- Have its own funds.
An action plan and budget, as well as the latest activity, financial and audit reports will also have to be presented, as well as the articles of association, internal regulations and the minutes of the board of directors’ meetings.
About our approach and operations, here and in Africa
The ultimate goal of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium is to help people fight hunger and poverty. Except we do this in a specific and very sustainable manner.
We support and improve the small-scale, family owned livestock farming in developing countries. Agriculture and livestock farming are the main sources of food and income. If the animals are healthy and produce more, the people have more food and income.
That allows them to save small amounts of money, send the children to school or pay for a doctor visit. A healthy livestock thus contributes to the health and well-being of the people who depend on it.
We help keep the livestock healthy, so that farmers can build a better existence for themselves and their families.
A zoonosis is a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. About two in three infectious diseases are zoonotic in humans. The AIDS virus, Ebola, malaria, Covid-19 and Lyme disease are zoonoses. All the pandemics that humanity has experienced to date have been caused by zoonoses. That makes them a serious threat to human and planetary health.
The factors causing the increase in the emergence of zoonoses are of human origin: massive deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, intensification of agricultural production and livestock keeping, the illegal trade in animals, misuse of antibiotics, the increase in the production of greenhouse gases and global warming, urbanisation, etc.
Normally, zoonotic pathogens and parasites are held in an animal ‘reservoir’, which may be bats, primates or rodents, for instance, or even insects such as mosquitoes or ticks. When they are under significant stress, for example because of the destruction of their natural habitat – which leads to increased contact with humans and other animals – these animals transmit the viruses they carry more easily. In recent decades, climate change and increasing temperatures have encouraged the spread of zoonotic disease vectors around the world, thus increasing the risk of health crises.
To fight zoonoses and prevent future pandemics, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium advocates the One Health approach. This is a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on cooperation between human, animal and environmental health professionals and on the need to develop shared activities at the intersection of these three fields.
Although we specialise in animal health and livestock keeping, we ensure that our activities have a positive impact on environmental and human health. For example, we promote extensive, agroecological livestock keeping, with sustainable management of pastoral resources. We are also strengthening animal health systems so they can detect and prevent animal diseases before they are transmitted to humans.
Furthermore, we work in partnership with organisations specialising in human health and environmental management. One area where we do this is around the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the summer of 2022, we have been implementing an innovative One Health project there with Médecins du Monde and Action pour le Développement des Milieux Ruraux.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium works as much as possible with local staff for carrying out our development programs in Africa. All our field staff works for the organization or for one of our partner organizations.
For some activities, we appeal to community animal health workers or government veterinarians, for example for large-scale vaccination campaigns. They are compensated for this.
For certain functions, we seek staff in the international labor market, choosing the person with the most relevant experience. This could be a veterinarian from Belgium, but also an agricultural engineer from Great Britain or a manager from Kenya.
Unfortunately, we barely have a budget to send volunteers or trainees to our programs in Africa. The field often has no need for such assistance and may not always offer the necessary learning experience or guidance that trainees or volunteers wish for. We also find it extremely important for the local population to be responsible for their own future. For this reason, the capacity building of our African partners is central to our operations. In the context of this capacity building, we are currently looking for ways to enable Belgian veterinarians and students of veterinary medicine to volunteer in the South.
We regularly organize exchange trips to Africa for Belgian veterinarians and students of agricultural and veterinary medicine. This is highly educational and has an important influence on how someone views the world. We expect these ‘ambassadors’ to volunteer for Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium before and after the trip. We always launch the call for these trips through our website and e-news.
We often have interns in the areas of communications, marketing, human resources, advocacy and development education. Are you interested in an internship? In that case, regularly consult the vacancies on our website. Spontaneous applications are also welcome. We look at each internship request in terms of availability of work and professional guidance within the organization.
Depending on current needs, we are looking for volunteers for certain tasks, such as translations, IT, human resources, administration… These vacancies always appear on our website, but spontaneous job applications are always welcome!
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium focuses on deprived farming families who do small-scale agricultural farming and livestock farming in certain areas of Africa. Often these are remote and (semi-)arid areas, where inhabitants struggle with long droughts and/or conflicts. We specifically support:
- Nomadic livestock farmers, also referred to as pastoralists
- Settled small-scale farmers with a some livestock
- Livestock farmers living in a city or suburbs
Large scale, intensive and industrialized livestock indeed has a large ecological footprint and contributes to climate change and environmental pollution. But this is not true for small-scale, extensive, family-owned livestock farming, where farmers, animals and the planet live in harmony.
The farmers we support have a small livestock, sometimes just a few animals, just enough to maintain themselves. More intensive livestock farming practices are accompanied by high methane emissions, use of fossil fuels, deforestation and land use. They do have a negative impact on the climate.
It is a widespread thought that goats eat everything bald. But this is quite simplistic. If you compare a goat with a cow or a sheep, then the goat is stronger and can survive longer on wild grasslands. It is primarily a “browser”, which means it can also eat leaves of bushes. Because they can survive in desert-like landscapes, after cows and sheep have already left, it seems that the goat is responsible for the desertification. But that is unjustified.
It fits in the survival strategy of a pastoralist – for example in the Sahel region – to diversify the herd by farming cattle, sheep as well as goats. This allows him to fully use the diverse plant growth in just one area. In addition, one species leaves vegetation for the other: goats eat the bushes, cows the big grass and sheep the short grass. For centuries, pastoralists have been keeping the ecosystem in equilibrium, also for wildlife.
There is a big difference between ‘eating’ and ‘destroying’. Sometimes it seems that a herd has eaten everything ‘bald’, but without having destroyed anything. After the first rain, in just a few days the grass grows like normal and the bushes and trees bloom again. If there is already ‘destruction’ of the vegetation – and thus desertification, this has a more complex cause, and especially a climatological origin: absence of water and rainfall in the desert.
Animals can, in principle, ‘destroy’ vegetation. And because goats are the hardest and strongest, they will also eat the last bit with root and everything, if they have to. This is a consequence of overgrazing: humans who keep too many animals on too small a surface. No livestock farmer benefits from overgrazing! A pastoralist does not leave an area because the grassland is all eaten, but simply to look for better grasslands. If he has to stay somewhere where there is not enough grassland, that is not because of free will, but because the context obligates him to do so. For example, grasslands that are no longer accessible because of violence or that are being taken for agriculture, housing or infrastructure projects. In such cases, they do unfortunately contribute, but completely outside their will and principles, to overgrazing.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium takes this problem into account in its various development programs. We aim for sustainable management of natural resources such as water and grass. In addition, we support the mobility of pastoralists, by cooperating with local authorities and legally establishing access to grazing land. This allows pastoralists to leave at the right time for more suitable pastures and to prevent overgrazing and ‘destruction’ of vegetation.
Supporting us financially
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium, for the most part, depends on grants from governments and international organizations. But private donations from individuals and companies are essential to achieve our mission.
These private donations ensure, among other things, that we receive important subsidies at both Belgian and international levels. Many grant providers pay only 80 to 90% of the total cost of a development program and they ask us to add or “co-finance” the remaining 10% to 20% ourselves. And we can only do that thanks to private donations. This way, for each euro collected, we can get grants from four to nine euros. As a result, a donation of 10 or 20 euros is worth at least 100 euros!
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium attaches great importance to its control mechanisms, both internally and externally, to ensure that all subsidies and private donations are used in a correct way.
The entire bookkeeping, including those of the development programs in the field, is centralized at headquarters in Brussels. The financial director monitors all financial transactions and reports to the management and directors’ committee and the board of directors.
The organization’s accounts, including the accounts of all projects, are audited annually by an external and independent audit firm.
A significant part of the revenue of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium comes from national governments and intergovernmental institutions. These grant providers impose additional external audits, each with strict criteria, which require the organization to have a high internal control level.
In order to ensure a continuous improvement of the internal control mechanisms, an audit committee is convened every three months – composed of members of the management committee – which monitors the application of the recommendations of external auditors.
We think transparency is important. You can therefore consult the financial position of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium on various websites, such as ngo-openboek.be, goededoelen.be, donorinfo.be and the website of the National Bank of Belgium. We are also member of the Association pour une Ethique dans les Récoltes de Fonds (AERF – Belgian association for ethics in fundraising), which checks each year whether we ethically use the private donations we receive. The Belgian government also checks every six years how we spend our money and whether we can issue tax certificates.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium is authorised to issue tax certificates for any donation of 40 euros per year or more. A tax certificate is automatically sent to each donor in March or April of the year following that of the donation. The tax benefit corresponds to a deduction of 45% from the total amount of donations over the year (with an upper limit of 20% of total net income).
A business can also make tax-deductible donations from 40 euros per year, with an upper limit of 5% of its taxable income or 500,000 euros. The company cannot obtain any recompense for a donation. If it does so, the donation is considered to be sponsorship.
When you make a donation to Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium through our website or using the account BE73 7326 1900 6460, your details will be included in a computerised file. Personal data that visitors to our website provide us with voluntarily – for example by subscribing to the electronic newsletter, using the contact form or accessing a page that requires a login – is also included in a file. These databases are the exclusive property of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium. The personal data of donors who donate through our website or to the account BE73 7326 1900 6460, as well as those of subscribers to our e-news and visitors to our site, is never passed on to third parties. You can view your personal data at any time and, if necessary, request its modification or erasure. Simply get in touch with us.
When you make a donation to Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium using the account BE15 0013 1604 0830, your personal data will be recorded in a file jointly managed by Direct Social Communications (rue Victor Rauter 33, 1070 Brussels). Your data can then be used for other humanitarian campaigns or charities. Contact us if you do not wish your data to be used in this way or if you want to view, modify or erase your data.
- We can ensure that you no longer receive correspondence. However, if you have made a donation to us in the past, tax law obliges us to store your data and information relating to your donation for at least 8 years.
- In order to raise as much money as possible for our projects, we use databases of readers, consumers or donors of other non-profit organisations to find new donors. If a person no longer wishes to receive correspondence, we are nevertheless obliged to store their data to ensure that we do not write to them again. We will then ensure that we can implement your objection to processing and your right to erasure of the data by means of referral files. This practice is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation, and it is recommended by the Data Protection Authority.
A donor may ask at any time to have fundraising letters sent more or less frequently. Simply contact us with your request.
We do not yet have a digital fundraising tool, apart from the online donation page on our website. This is why we prefer to send letters by post.
So that we can respond to the most urgent needs, the donations we receive serve as a contribution to all of Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium’s development and emergency programmes. Thanks to your support, we are able to help the disadvantaged families who need our help the most.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium uses four account numbers for donations, depending on the origin or nature of the donation. This helps us to track donations.
- Account number BE15 0013 1604 0830 is for donations in response to a fundraising letter.
- Account number BE22 3631 2869 0647 is for direct debits following a fundraising letter.
- Account number BE73 7326 1900 6460 is for all other donations (including online ones).
- Account number BE86 3631 8805 4950 is for all other direct debits (including online ones).
You can support us in different ways. By making a donation you can help us to carry out our activities in Africa and give local livestock farmers hope for a better future. If you support us monthly, we can plan long-term activities. Banning hunger and poverty from the world does not happen overnight. This requires an integrated approach over several years.
You can also help Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium as a volunteer; you can look at our vacancies or apply spontaneously. You can volunteer as a veterinarian, student or professor, you can fundraise, organize a lecture, attend one of our activities… Learn more about how you can help.
Working for Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium
In accordance with its values and code of integrity, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium does not discriminate in any way in its recruitment procedure.
The main requirement for working at our headquarters in Brussels is to have a valid work permit for Belgium. We accept candidates who live in other countries, on the condition that they come to work at our offices at least one day a week (working 100% remotely is not allowed). We do not contribute to the costs of moving to Belgium that our employees incur.
Depending on the job, fluency in one of the two national languages (French or Dutch) will be required, with at least a practical knowledge of the other language. Depending on the profile sought for each position, other characteristics may be required. These are specified in each of our job offers.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium stimulates local development. Therefore our staff in the various African countries where we work are mainly recruited locally and often come from that country.
Foreign candidates are accepted on the condition that they are resident in the country where we are active or prepared to move there at their own expense. Furthermore, they need to be fluent in at least one of the national languages of the country where they are applying and, for international positions, to be fluent in French and/or English as well.
As at our headquarters, there is no discrimination of any kind in the recruitment process in the field.
Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium accepts volunteers at its headquarters in Brussels. The profiles sought and the conditions for volunteering are published regularly on our website.
We refund our volunteers’ travel expenses and other essential costs, upon presentation of receipts. Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium also provides insurance for its volunteers. This covers the civil liability of volunteers for damage caused to the non-profit association or third parties, as well as physical injury incurred while doing volunteer work or on the way between the volunteer’s home and their workplace.
Unemployed people who do voluntary work for Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium are authorised by the RVA/ONEM to keep their unemployment benefits.
About your personal data: moving, privacy, adjustments…
If you move, please contact us to register your change of address. This way we can keep you informed and we will ensure that your tax certificate will be sent to the right address in Belgium.
If you support us monthly, you must first report your change of address to your bank. Then contact us so that we can adjust your data in our database.
Ask your question
We will get back to you as soon as possible.
We keep the data that you send us (last name, first name, email address and possibly phone number and address) in databases managed by us (and developed by service providers such as Direct Social Communications, WordPress and Campaign Monitor). We only process your data to answer a question you may have and (if you are already a donor or if you subscribed to our newsletter) to keep you aware of our activities and ask for your support. We only use the information that you submit through the form above to this end and we will not cede it to others. You can verify, correct or withdraw your personal data at any time. Read our full privacy statement for more information.