Despite their role in generating income for their owners in developing countries working animals are virtually invisible in development policy and programming both internationally and in developing countries.
This neglect is primarily caused by a lack of understanding of the contributions of working donkeys, mules and horses to people’s welfare, particularly their livelihoods. Because they do not produce food or fibre products they are not perceived as having a direct value (e.g. money, nutrition) that can benefit their owners. On the contrary other livestock, such as cows and goats, are given due attention because they produce food outputs.
As a result, working equine animals are perceived as unimportant or considered a luxury in comparison to the urgent needs of their struggling owners. Because of this misconception, working equids tend to be ranked much less highly than food and fibre production animals, and are therefore often excluded from national and international livestock and livelihoods policy and programming.
This means that their needs do not feature in livestock related intervention and policy. For example, equine drugs are not available, health professionals are not trained on equine health or they are excluded from livestock vaccination campaigns. This is detrimental to them as well as their owners.
Working together on solutions
By improving the lives of working equine animals, we can enable poor families and communities to protect what is often their greatest asset. This allows them to rely on a regular direct or indirect income, which in turn ensures their access to food, and supports families’ access to healthcare, education or social benefits.
The Brooke works with policy makers and implementers, as well as other non-governmental organisations to arm them with the evidence, knowledge and technical support they need to improve the welfare of the working horses, donkeys and mules through legislation and policy, and though interventions related to livelihoods, gender and livestock.
We seek to bridge the gaps between human development and working animal welfare by highlighting the linkages and the mutual benefits of improving human and working equine welfare
For more information see our detailed advocacy and policy pages