Brooke East Africa counts on community support during Covid-19 pandemic
Donkey Welfare Champions
Like much of the world, Kenya imposed strict lockdown measures in March to combat the spread of Covid-19, meaning that Brooke East Africa had to get resourceful to ensure that equine owning communities still received support. In stepped the Donkey Welfare Champions, who, to date, have reached over 600 donkeys during the pandemic.
Donkey Welfare Champions are nominated members of equine-owning communities who have demonstrated compassion for donkeys; they include farriers, local animal health providers and local leaders. Prior to the pandemic, Brooke and its partner KENDAT began working closely with them, equipping them with knowledge and skills on various aspects of donkey husbandry so that animals would always have access to support in the absence of programme staff.
Although these Champions were initially identified as part of Brooke’s mission for sustainability within communities, they became an invaluable asset during this unprecedented crisis. Whilst Brooke staff have been unable to travel and meet with communities, Champions have ensured that donkey owners and users have been able to get timely treatment for their donkeys through the linkages provided with local health service providers close to them.
In fact, this new approach has proven to be a particularly effective way of reaching out to communities as donkey owners have been more likely to speak up and discuss their issues with Champions as they see them as peers. Going forward, the programme will continue working with Champions to reach more donkeys and their owners and encourage them to join welfare groups.
Farmers trained in soap production
As we all know, one of the key ways to stop the spread of Covid-19 is through regular hand washing. Brooke East Africa’s partner, Send a Cow (SACK) spotted this as an opportunity to teach farmers how to make liquid soap in order to boost hand hygiene in communities and provide the farmers with much-needed income.
The training was adopted by individual farmers from 13 community groups in Homa Bay, who have been earning around £4 (600 KES) per week by producing and selling the products locally within communities. Some of the farmers have even worked on a marketing strategy for the soap where they make tip taps – washing stations made from locally available materials – for free, discuss donkey welfare with farmers, and then sell the soap to promote hand washing in the community.
Caroline Awuor, a 30-year-old mother of four said: “I used a portion of this income to boost my group savings and I was able to qualify for bigger loans to improve my farming ventures. I have been using my donkey to transport water to people and earn some income. Water source is a little bit far but I used to work all day long making several trips to earn a living. However, with increased income from soap making, I’m glad that the number of times my donkey walks to the river has greatly reduced because I have diversified sources of income.”
Whilst lockdown measures have now been eased in Kenya, Brooke East Africa and its partners will continue to promote community-led initiatives as a means of providing sustainable and consistent support for donkeys and their owners.