22 March 2024

How Brooke helps keep working equids hydrated worldwide

This World Water Day, Brooke recognises the importance of keeping working animals hydrated, helping them to support 600 million people. 

Approximately 1 in 10 people worldwide currently lack access to water. 2 billion are unable to access safe drinking water services. 

The repercussions of water insecurity are felt in communities around the world, but what does this mean for the 100 million working animals they depend on to live, work, put food on the table and send their children to school? 

During a recent visit to India with Brooke, I saw many horses, donkeys and mules working out in the sun - dehydrated from few water breaks and reserves. Did you know that:

Donkeys drink 5% of their body weight per day in temperate conditions, and 9% in hot climates? In India, donkeys are mostly used for labour in brick kilns full of dust and heat, making access to water all the more important. 

Lack of water is more rapidly fatal to horses than lack of feed? Even 1-2 hours without water are harmful for horses and like humans, regular, scheduled water breaks are essential for these animals. 

Working horses need up to 40-60 litres of water a day in hot climates? 30 times the daily average of people. 

Stagnant water can be a breeding ground for infectious disease? Including parasites, toxic chemicals and bacterial infections. Clean water keeps animals healthy and able to carry out vital work. 

Dehydration increases the risk of conditions like colic and heat stress, which can be fatal? Many owners in India reported colic cases amongst their horses and donkeys, which is linked to dehydration. 

Where does Brooke come in?


In 2021, Brooke Pakistan started work in Gujranwala at a brick kiln called Al Haider. They taught equine owners and workers how to look after their horses in hot weather - including signs of heat stress such as flared nostrils, increased pulse rate and laboured breathing. 

Owners also learnt how their animals should drink clean water regularly and be showered during the hot summer season. Using knowledge about current practices and risks of heat stress, community members agreed to prioritise equine health - by providing clean drinking water and shade to rest. 


In rural Ethiopia, women and children often walk more than three hours to collect water, sometimes from shallow wells or unprotected ponds shared with animals. Working horses, donkeys and mules face the biggest health challenges caused by water shortage - colic being the most common condition. 

Setting out to improve water accessibility for these animals, Brooke has constructed 16 water projects in Oromia and Southern regional states, including water troughs, water points, reservoirs and water line extensions. 

In Kofele clinic, one of Brooke’s intervention areas, a low-cost manually pulled hydro pump has been installed. The machine pumps 13 metres of underground water, giving animals a place to easily drink during a day’s work.

Spreading awareness

Nancy is a 25 year old donkey owner from East Africa, who regularly uses a water trough built by Brooke and ASPA (Arusha Society for Protection for Animals) positioned in a very arid area of North Tanzania. The trough means that Nancy’s donkeys drink regularly when helping her with daily chores, such as fetching water, going to the market and collecting firewood. 

Nancy respects her donkeys as a “partner in life” and recognises the importance of water accessibility for them - “A happy donkey means a happy household”. Showing communities how healthy, hydrated animals are more able to support them, in turn helps ensure animal health is prioritised.