4 May 2016

Restoring the status of horses and donkeys in Senegal

On the 24 March 2016, Brooke West Africa’s partner, the Union des Groupements Paysans de Meckhé (UGPM), launched a new three-year welfare project, Wormaal Mala.

Senegal family with horses

Senegal family with horses

A Senegalese expression taken from the Wolof language, Wormaal Mala translates to “Restoring the important status of horses and donkeys.” By promoting changes in how people behave towards their animals, we believe the project will benefit working animals now and into the future.

There are nearly one million working horses, donkeys and mules in Senegal, used mainly for agricultural work and transporting goods and people. They play a crucial role in the livelihoods of many, yet their contribution is often overlooked and their status within society remains low. Donkeys, who have the lowest status, receive much less care than horses. The notion of investing in preventive care for working horses is not always accepted or acted upon. As well as causing often avoidable suffering, animals which are poorly cared for are unable to work, meaning income is lost and whole families can backslide into poverty.

 

Senegal man feeding horse

Apart from the far south, much of Senegal lies in the drought-prone Sahel area, with poor soil and erratic rainfall. By empowering communities to better care for the working animals they rely on, our project will also enable communities to be more resilient to food insecurity.

The Wormaal Mala project is initially being rolled out in the Tivaouane area. As well as promoting more compassion towards horses and donkeys, the project will improve the quality and accessibility of vital services such as local vets, farriers and harness makers. In a matter a months, an entire community can be trained to take better care of their working animals, and it’s estimated that the Wormaal Mala project can positively and sustainably contribute to the welfare of 3,678 equines and the families who depend on them.

More than 200 people were present at the launch, providing an opportunity for UGPM and Brooke West Africa to talk about the benefits of the project, as well as to begin spreading their positive message to the crowds.

One of the main attractions at the launch was a comedy sketch reinforcing the link between healthy working horses, donkeys and mules and improved livelihoods.

The event was full of colours, sounds and excitement. People ate and drank and were well entertained, but most of all it was an awareness raising event, a wake-up call to care for horses and donkeys.

Justice Nnyigide from Brooke West Africa was at the event and said: “The event was full of colours, sounds and excitement. People ate and drank and were well entertained, but most of all it was an awareness raising event, a wake-up call to care for horses and donkeys.”

With local and religious authorities also present, including the Municipal Secretary, the representative of the Mayor and eight village heads, it’s a positive sign that the communities of Tivaouane are ready to engage with the project.