Nicaragua at a glance
Population: 6.1 million
Percentage of people living below the international poverty line: 10.8%
Number of working equines: 317,000
Sources: World Bank 2015, World Bank 2010, FAO, 2006
Nicaragua is striving to overcome the after-effects of dictatorship, civil war and natural calamities which have made it one of the poorest countries in the western world. Parts of rural and urban Nicaragua still rely on working horses, donkeys and mules for transportation of goods and people. Although there are affordable and accessible veterinary services in most towns and villages, the quality of equine services is very often poor.
In partnership with Oikos, we are working with equine owners and users to improve the quality of local services and laying the foundation for advocacy work.
Oikos' work is focused on 15 communities within three regions: Rivas, Masaya and Managua. These areas have around 24,000 equines, mostly horses which pull carts and carriages. Research and scoping in other areas of the country has also taken place with the aim of developing a longer-term programme.
In 2014, a drought affected several of the communities where we were working so we ensured emergency supplies of feed were available, maintaining the lives of 400 animals.
It’s been a real struggle for people coping with the drought. More and more owners started coming to us saying that they couldn’t feed them without help, so we decided to take action.
"It hasn’t been easy, but we’re so glad that this feeding has made a difference. We’re looking forward to working with the communities here to come up with long term solutions, and stop this from happening again.
In 2014-2015, after working with equine owners in 14 communities over a period of nine months, we saw positive changes in the animals' lives because owners were practising their newly acquired knowledge. When five neighbouring communities heard about our successful training, they asked to be included in the programme.
We also organised equine owning communities into groups which can collectively grow drought-resistant feed and manage grazing land. In some communities we are working through existing community groups.
Chinga is an important part of our family, and I was so scared of losing her. She helps us with everything and I don’t know how we could survive without her. Thanks to the Brooke, I feel happier about my family’s future.
By engaging government bodies and other organisations at national and local levels, we are promoting the importance of horses to Nicaragua's economy and aiming for better representation of basic equine welfare standards in the country's laws, policies and programmes.
The team also lobbies for issues of working equines in a weekly column in a national daily newspaper with a circulation of 40,000+, and have been interviewed several times on primetime breakfast TV shows watched by up to one million.
We operate in partnership with a variety of organisations to extend the range and impact of our work.