Ahead of our work in 2015, Brooke conducted scoping visits to identify need and assess the potential for impactful work in Mexico.
Mexico at a glance
Population: 129 million
Percentage of people living below the international poverty line: 2.7%
Number of working equines: 12,800,000
Sources: World Bank 2015, World Bank 2017
There are currently 12.8 million working donkeys, horses and mules in Mexico. Often found in the most rural areas, they are used for agriculture, construction, mining, tourism and transport and are an extremely important part of the family with the livelihoods of many people depending on them.
But these animals are not always living in the best conditions and their owners lack the knowledge and the resources to look after them. A donkey can live as long as 37 years, but the average lifespan of a donkey in Mexico is 14 years.
San Martin equine welfare project
Brooke funded a project with local partner Fundación Dejando Huella which ran for two and half years and aimed to improve the welfare of approximately 200 horses working at a refuse and recycling site in the city of San Martin, Puebla Mexico.
Working together with the owners and others who work at the site, we worked to improve attitudes, knowledge and care to create a sustainable welfare environment for these working animals that are used on a daily basis to transport refuse from the city to the site by cart. Brooke observed that these horses routinely suffer from low body condition, lesions, parasites and lameness. Additionally, they were often going without clean water and nutritious food.
Our work included:
- gathering data
- providing training and community engagement activities and
- identifying and training a member of the community as a Local Service Provider and encourage owners to pay a small fee for his services
Mexico has an animal welfare law and Brooke worked with owners to help them understand what it means for them in practice.
Our partner also worked with owners to develop an animal welfare charter which each committed to abide by. Owners were empowered as this charter gave them confidence in how they treat their animals and enabled them to engage in conversation and push back against crticism.
Additionally, owners were given access to equine care manuals specific to their context.
"Brooke worked with Fundación Dejando Huella for three fruitful years on a unique project which allowed us to reach vulnerable animals, integral to local livelihoods but often living in poor conditions. The project yielded many vital organisational learnings and did important work in hard-win areas. We now work with local partner ESAP in Guatemala and through our branch in Nicaragua."
Current work in Central America
Brooke works in Central America through a branch in Nicaragua and in partnership with local organisation, ESAP, in Guatemala to reach some of Central America’s most vulnerable working equines.
Brooke’s work in Central America began through a pilot project in Nicaragua in 2013.
Working in partnerships with local Development NGO Oikos, Brooke launched a four-year pilot project to; train local animal health practitioners such as agrovets, farriers and harness makers; engage local communities in learning and practicing positive animal welfare techniques; and engage with governmental bodies to promote the importance of equines to Nicaragua’s economy.
Guatemala is one of Latin America’s most populated countries and has one of the highest levels of inequality in the region. Much of the estimated 228,000 working equine population is used for transporting agricultural products such as corn, beans and wood and for carrying water from wells to homes. These equines are affected by a range of welfare issues from poor body condition and tick infestation to lameness and spinal pain.
Since 2006, we have worked through our partner ESAP (loosely translated to Healthy Equines for the People), a Guatemalan foundation which promotes the welfare of working equines.
They are working with 400 equine owners to ensure they have the appropriate knowledge and skills to carry out practices such as good handling, hoof cleaning, grooming, equipment maintenance and tick treatment.