The Socioeconomic Contribution of Donkeys in Burkina Faso

In many low and middle-income countries donkeys are well-known to support the livelihoods of the poorest populations. In many countries their importance has not been extensively documented through research. As a result their welfare is often neglected in legislation. As far as we are aware the role of donkeys in people’s lives in Burkina Faso has previously not be evidenced; this study therefore aimed to determine the socio economic contribution of donkeys to communities living and working in both urban and rural areas.

The study was conducted in 2019, five administrative regions (out of a total of 13) were selected. The study participants included cart drivers using donkeys for commercial activities, farmers using donkeys for agriculture, and pastoralists whose donkeys play an essential role in resilience strategies. Overall, 210 cart drivers, 235 farmers, and 387 pastoralists were selected. Questionnaires were designed for urban (cart drivers) and rural settings (farmers). Focus group discussions took place with participants in pastoral areas.

Key findings

Urban areas

  • Donkeys were widely used to transport various types of food, including cereal, and materials such as water, bricks and manure.
  • Across all regions, the income generated by donkeys accounted for an average of over 85% of the drivers’ total income, with values ranging from 77% in the Centre Nord to up to 93% in the Centre.

Rural areas

  • The most common use of working donkeys was the transportation of harvest and crop residues and ploughing.
  • Households estimated that yield for their most cultivated products would reduce by over 50% without their donkeys, except for rice, where the reduction would be approximately 19%.
  • In the absence of donkeys, each household would require over 290,000 XOF (~£395) annually to pay for services such as transportation of goods to markets and cultivation.

Pastoralist areas

  • Donkeys were reported to play a diverse role, ranging from being used in cultural activities to bridal presents and water management.
  • Trips to some water sources can be as long as 5km, and the water collected supplies the entire household.
  • Donkeys are extremely important to women in these areas. They carry products to markets, gather wood and water and provide financial independence.


This  study  has  demonstrated  the  crucial  role  of  donkeys  in  economic  contribution, maintenance of tradition, and resilience across different communities in Burkina Faso. The main recommendations to the authorities relate to greater consideration of donkeys in public development policies, and raising public awareness of the welfare of donkeys (e.g., the adoption of regulations to the weight of loads of goods transported by donkey carts and the reinforcement of the operational capacities of the Network of Epidemiological Surveillance of Animal Diseases of Burkina Faso to take into account the surveillance of the equine influenza).


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