How and why we undertake research

Research is an integral part of our work. It underpins our programmatic and advocacy work and improves our activities. Through sharing our research, we also share our learning and increase understanding of the issues facing working equids and their owners in developing countries.

Why is research essential to our work?

Our global strategy incorporates evidence as one of its five key enablers. Both programme and advocacy activities must be informed by the best available qualitative and quantitative evidence.

To do this, we must understand locally-relevant welfare problems and be able to design and evaluate appropriate interventions. Because our country programme (CP) teams are in contact with the animals and their owners every day, they know the most important issues being faced and are therefore best placed to identify new research questions.

What topics do we research?

Research may relate to any topic relevant to our activities. It could:

  • investigate a problem in working equids and ensure that appropriate service provision (healthcare, farriery and saddlery) is available to these animals’ owners and users
  • relate to a challenge that has been identified during community engagement activities with owners and users of working equids
  • be a question that has arisen during advocacy-related conversations with policy makers or government institutions.

What guides our research?

Our research follows a series of key principles, which are set out in Brooke's Research Policy (PDF 277KB). 

  1. We only undertake applied research. Before investigating a question, it must be clear how the answer will be used to make us more effective and thereby improve the welfare of working equids.
  2. We do not carry out invasive research. Our Animal Welfare Ethics Review Board reviews all research proposals and protocols and ensures they minimise both human and animal welfare risks.
  3. To reach as many people as possible, the research findings must be shared with:
    • the participants in the research, for example equid owners and service providers
    • Brooke colleagues working in the country where the research was undertaken and in other countries we work in
    • audiences outside Brooke via conferences and other media.

This animation explains the background to research at Brooke.

Who carries out research at Brooke?

Our research activities started in the early 2000s when we funded a project in collaboration with staff at the Bristol University Vet School. The first piece of work from this collaboration was published as a scientific paper in 2005 and resulted in the development of an approach to welfare assessment for use in the field. This work forms the basis of a welfare assessment protocol that is currently used by Brooke country programmes (CPs) known as the Standardised Equine Based Welfare Assessment Tool (SEBWAT) (PDF 261KB).

Subsequent research in collaboration with Bristol University Vet School during the 2000s is described in a number of scientific papers which have been published in academic journals

Since the late 2000s, our research has focused on topics suggested by our CP staff, involving field work that is led by them and supported by a UK-based team. This team manages a process through which research is defined and agreed in accordance with Brooke's Research Policy (PDF 277KB).

UK support

The Evidence and Research team are based in London. They support Country Programmes in two key areas:

  • origination, design, execution and interpretation of research projects to answer questions arising in the course of their programmatic and advocacy-related activities
  • origination, collection, analysis and interpretation of standardised equine welfare assessment data as part of measuring and monitoring the effect of programmatic activities on the welfare of beneficiary animals.

Support is provided both remotely and via brief country visits as appropriate.

The team is also responsible for supporting internal and external dissemination of findings of both research projects and welfare assessment. These activities contribute to encouraging our culture of learning and to sharing this with both the working equine and wider animal welfare communities, as well as human development sector.

How do I get access to Brooke research?

See our publication and conference presentations. For journal papers, links to the academic summaries (abstracts) or full paper are provided. 

You can also download copies of our printed publications and policies.

For further information on oral presentations or scientific posters, or if you have any difficulties accessing our research or any queries on our current research activities, please contact us.