Working in the brick kilns

The Brooke works in brick kilns across two continents, providing treatment and care for horses, donkeys and mules. As demand for bricks increases, the welfare of these working animals is increasingly important.

Brooke Ambassador helps push into new India brick kilns

The Brooke is expanding its work into more than 117 new brick kilns in India to benefit more working donkeys, horses and mules.

“It really struck home what a tough environment it is here in the brick kilns for the animals and their owners, a stark contrast to the lives horses in the UK enjoy,” says Brooke Ambassador Major Richard Waygood MBE.

“The people however, have a huge amount of pride in their animals – this can clearly be seen by the way they have welcomed the Brooke into their communities and are embracing the advice given.”

The Brooke is offering emergency vet treatment and vaccinations, as well as advice on disease prevention. It is also creating equine welfare groups, encouraging owners to contribute to a joint savings account for use in emergencies and ensures they have access to first aid kits.

To bring about lasting change, the Brooke’s approach involves working closely with local service providers too, such as farriers, saddlers and cart makers, which are often difficult for poor communities to access.

Harsh conditions

Richard visited some of the new kilns earlier this year to help to raise awareness of the austere conditions facing many of the animals who work tirelessly in the kilns to help their owners earn a living. 

India is the second largest brick producer in the world, with an output of 140 billion bricks annually. The process is largely manual and there is little or no technology involved.

Extreme temperatures, lack of shade, difficult terrain and overloading can cause suffering for horses, donkeys and mules. Disease and injuries are common.

Demand for veterinary services is high

“Working conditions in the brick kilns are severe,” said Dorcas Pratt, Brooke’s Director of International Development. "There are currently 50,000 brick kilns in India with more than 5,000 found in Uttar Pradesh alone, so demand for the Brooke’s services is high. To meet that demand we’ve expanded our programme to reach more animals."

See more photos of Richard's trip on Flickr.

See a photo-story about how the Brooke is working to improve conditions in India's brick kilns

You can help to raise funds for the Brooke by taking part in our horse riding challenge to Rajasthan in February 2012, where you can visit the brick kilns and see first -hand how your donations are helping.

Read an interview with kiln vet Dr Sanjay Sharma
Read 28-year old buggy driver Kallu's story

After the Pakistan floods

Millions of bricks are needed to rebuild hospitals, schools and houses following the Pakistan floods six months ago and the bricks will be transported by working horses and donkeys. This puts animals at renewed risk, especially those working in the brick kilns.

Brick is used in 98% of buildings in Pakistan. There are about 11,000* brick kilns across Pakistan, where between 750,000 and 900,000** people work alongside their animals to support their families. (*Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research ** NGO Ercelawn).

You can help the horses, donkeys and mules affected by the Pakistan floods by donating towards our appeal.

Watch our footage from Pakistan, and the Brooke’s efforts to provide sustainable welfare and support.

Check out our case study on Jamshed in Pakistan whose home was swept away in the floods.

Who will care for the Donkeys in Pakistan now’? Read Brooke Pakistan’s Research Team Leader, Syed Zahir Ali Shah’s blog on what’s happening six months on from the flood.

The Brooke's response to the floods in July 2010. Find out more about the Brooke’s work in Pakistan.

Heat and dust in the kilns of Egypt

The Helwan brick kilns are the largest in Egypt, with working donkeys and mules playing a crucial role in its 185 kilns, producing 200 million bricks a month. Nearly 2,000 animals face years of hard labour in sweltering kilns, just south of Cairo, transporting tonnes of bricks with little food, water, rest or shade.

Beasts of burden

Donkeys and mules suffer from a number of physical problems ranging from lameness and dehydration to harness wounds, caused by overloading and long working hours. A single animal pulls an average of 25–40 tonnes a day and while the Brooke advises owners and users not to overload their animals, workers are paid by the brick, often resulting in animals carrying too much.

The Brooke is on hand to help

Mobile veterinary teams visit the kilns treating animals and offering advice for their owners and users. Prior to the Brooke’s intervention, animals were often treated with traditional practices such as firing and mutilation.

Find out more about our work in Egypt, watch our latest video from the country or visit our Brooke Blog to read about our work first-hand.

Brooke Ambassador Richard Waygood with staff from Brooke India

Brooke Ambassador Major Richard Waygood with staff from Brooke India. ©The Brooke/ Manpreet Romana.

Major Richard Waygood watches the Brooke at work

Major Richard Waygood watches the Brooke at work. ©The Brooke/ Manpreet Romana.

A horse prepares to be loaded with bricks in India

A horse prepares to be loaded with bricks in India ©The Brooke/ Manpreet Romana.

A mule takes a short break from working in the Helwan brick kilns near Cairo

A mule takes a short break from working in the Helwan brick kilns near Cairo. © Rania Elsayed.

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