Challenges Associated with Informed Consent in Low- and Low-Middle-Income Countries

Obtaining agreement from those participating in a research project is a generally recognised step of undertaking research, particularly in western contexts. This process of obtaining agreement with full knowledge of the benefits as well as risks (i.e. informed consent) to participation can be more challenging in developing contexts where people are illiterate and there are different social, educational and research norms.

It is important for organisations to act in their participants’ or beneficiaries’ best interests while also meeting the set of ethical principles expected within the wider research community.

Brooke operates in low- and low-middle income countries where approximately 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules undertake commercial and domestic tasks. Research involving humans and/or owned animals is an activity which Brooke carries out within these contexts in order to provide information which will support improved programmatic and advocacy-related work. 

In this paper we revisit those ethical principles and reflect on the many contextual challenges that can arise in the process of planning and obtaining informed consent in low-and low-middle income countries. As the welfare of the animals and their owners is vital, Brooke explains how it and other NGOs can instil an ethical process which minimises or eliminates these challenges during research activities.