The programme aimed to help working donkeys at risk of dehydration, starvation and disease in drought-hit northern Kenya.
The arid and semi-arid Mandera County, on the border between Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, had been without rainfall for six months and a further three months of drought is predicted, leading the government to declare a state of emergency.
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Here, the Brooke's Director of International Development, Dorcas Pratt reports on the success of the emergency response.
"We drive on dusty roads to El Wak, a scattered town bordering Somalia, 160 kms south of Mandera town. The vegetation is brittle and dry, waiting for rain. There has been no sign of rain here since May 2010, boreholes being the only source of water.
The sight of animal skeletons on the roadside brings home the enormity of the problems being faced here.
On arrival in El Wak, the team agrees the details of the emergency feed distribution for donkeys, which complements those for livestock and people.
I then visit Borehole 11, the only borehole supplying ‘sweet’ water (not salty), nine miles from El Wak town. On the road we see a number of donkeys making their way to fetch the water that is so essential for drinking and cooking.
The Brooke and Practical Action have been contributing to purchase fuel for five boreholes in the drought stricken region where owners and their donkeys drink and fetch water for the wider population.
The caretaker explains that in normal times people are willing to pay enough for water to cover the cost of the fuel used to drive the pumps.
“But now people arrive who have no livestock left, who are struggling to feed themselves and I do not have the heart to turn them away. They must have water. You cannot know what your contribution has meant to us.”
Nearby, working donkeys are drinking with camels and goats at troughs, as people fetch water for their families. One of these troughs has been funded by the Brooke.
A respected elder, Mr Mohammed Abdirahiman, says, sadly; “We have lost our other livestock. Our donkeys are our hope.”
“Even if we change our way of living, donkeys will remain at the core of our lives. No one can do without them,” adds a government livestock officer.
Through the existing Livelihoods & Donkey Welfare (LIDOW) project and relationships built with government and local structures such as water user committees, the Brooke and Practical Action have been able to act quickly in the current crisis, responding to the needs of working animals and the families who depend on them.
There are another 4-6 weeks to go before the predicted rains. As the District Commissioner for Central Mandera, Ole Ntutu says, “September will be hell.”
Read Dorcas's other report from Kenya
Read Tania’s blog on how the drought is affecting the people and their working donkeys in the region.
Visit our photo gallery on Flickr.
More about our work in Kenya