16 January 2016

First of its kind policy conference takes steps to improve welfare of 'Invisible Workers'

On the 16 November 2015 international and national policy stakeholders, researchers and civil society organisations gathered in London for a Brooke-hosted one day policy conference. The title of the event was “Invisible Livestock: Highlighting the multiple contributions of livestock to livelihoods and national economies”.

'Invisible Livestock' was attended, among others, by The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the government of Kenya. Fellow animal welfare organisations attended, including World Animal Protection, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare, as well as human development organisations Concern Worldwide and Send a Cow.

The conference discussed the roles and contributions of livestock, looking specifically at horses, donkeys and mules – the animals who don’t directly produce food or fibres, but do make a significant contribution to people’s incomes by transporting goods to sell, food and water among many other functions. Delegates also discussed how the importance of working equines can be more fully recognised by international policy makers.

The event provided an opportunity to launch Invisible Workers, a Brooke report outlining evidence to show the importance of working horses donkeys and mules to people’s livelihoods. The report brings together evidence to show that working horses, donkeys and mules around the world enable their owners to earn money and to feed, clothe and educate their families.

The conference allowed organisations working in different sectors to come together and work towards a common goal – helping both working livestock such as horses, donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on those animals. The Brooke is now exploring future steps with international development organisations such as Concern Worldwide and Practical Action.

To find out more about the Brooke’s advocacy team visit our Policy and Research page and read the Invisible Workers report (PDF 5.9Mb).

(Note: in the report, the figure of 112 million working animals, provided by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2014, refers to all horses, donkeys and mules in the world, including sports and pleasure horses. The number in developing countries is estimated at approximately 100 million.)