High poverty rates and decades of conflict make Afghanistan a particularly challenging, but needful, context for Brooke’s work. Since 2008 we have worked in partnership with DCA Livestock Programs and in 2018 we launched a new partnership with Afghanaid.



At a glance

Afghanistan has 1.6 million working donkeys, horses and mules.

Of the 38.9 million citizens, an estimated 36% live below the national poverty line, and over 80% of equine owning communities fall within this category. 

This, along with the exacerbating factors detailed below, creates some serious challenges to welfare of working equines. 

22 year old Samar Gul, a beneficiary of the STRAW (Strengthening Animal Welfare) project run by Brooke and Afghanaid.

Take a closer look

There are an estimated 1.6m working equids in Afghanistan; a country where continuous droughts, floods, harsh terrain, political uncertainty and ongoing internal warfare make it one of the most challenging to work in. The United Nation Office reported recently that 93% of the households in Afghanistan are managing their daily lives with less than $2, which shows the extreme level of poverty; in fact, it is estimated that 36% of the total population lives below the national poverty line and over 80% of equine owning communities fall within this category.

The economic dependency of these communities on their equines, and their extreme poverty have forced them to intensively utilize their animals, resulting in extremely poor health and welfare conditions. Some of the main welfare issues include poor body condition, harness wounds, external parasitic infestations, colic and lameness. Traditional practices passed down from generation to generation, such as nostril slitting can often be harmful.

The health system for equines in Afghanistan is weak, with training and services typically focussed on other livestock species. This lack of knowledge and skills in veterinary service providers means that even if owners are able to afford treatment for their equids, it cannot always be found. Additionally, the market is full of not only low-quality, but also fake medicines, crowding out the more expensive legitimate alternatives.

Being more focussed on the productivity of livestock species, there is a complete lack of national level equine-related policies, and animal welfare is an unknown concept. Local and community level policies and practices are mainly controlled by the traditional Shuras (councils), the religious leaders and the CDCs, who do not give priority to working equines.

All of these factors combine to create serious challenges to the daily lives of working equines.


Brooke's Afghanistan partners - logos

Brooke has worked in partnership with two organisations in Afghanistan: DCA Livestock Programs  and Afghanaid. Working with these organisations, with their experience, expertise and well-established links with communities and government officials, has allowed Brooke to reach equines across nine provinces of the country.

DCA Livestock Programs have worked since 1988 to help Afghan people by boosting the health and production of their livestock. They have received great recognition from government and instituted an 800-strong network of Veterinary Field Units across the country. Brooke has partnered with them since 2008.

Afghanaid is a British humanitarian and development organisation. For close to forty years, they have worked with millions of deprived and excluded families in some of the poorest and most remote communities in Afghanistan. With their years of experience, a majority Afghan team, and a deep understanding of local, cultural and ethnic issues, they have been well-placed to reach some of the most under-served equid-owning communities of the country. Brooke started working with them in 2018.


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