Thousands of horses, donkeys and mules work in extreme heat and difficult terrain in brick kilns in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Afghanistan. In India alone, there are an estimated 50,000 brick kilns producing 140 billion bricks annually.
Brick kilns are an extremely complex environment with difficult and sensitive issues. To achieve sustainable change, it's vital that organisations involved in brick kiln policy and advocacy work together to raise awareness of this industry and help deliver long lasting improvements for the animals, people and the environment.
Brooke is pleased to have been able to host this unique meeting which provided a great opportunity for organisations from different sectors to get to know each other and to better understand the key issues within and across each sector. We hope to keep the momentum and continue the dialogue with the organisations present at the meeting.
On 16-18 March 2015, Brooke organised and hosted the first regional brick kiln advocacy meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal. The event gathered participants representing the three key sectors involved in brick kilns: animal welfare, child and bonded labour, and the environment. This was the first time that all relevant sectors came together to discuss this issue. Representatives from organisations such as International Labour Organiszation, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Unicef and ActionAid joined Brooke to discuss commonalities across their issues and the potential for joint working within key south Asian countries and across the region.
Two of the critical issues discussed were the living and working conditions of the human and animal workers and the weak institutional, policy and legal frameworks. In the case of working equine animals, there are currently very few national pieces of legislation that deal with their needs and no specific law, regulations or policies that deal with working animals in the brick kilns.
One of the key outcomes of the workshop was the recognition of some links between the three sectors, particularly around health. Traditional brick kilns that use polluting technology have a negative health impact on both humans and animals, but also on the environment.