Unlike many African countries, Zambia only started putting donkeys to work relatively recently. The death of many oxen from diseases including foot-and-mouth, or drought, has led to farmers in some parts of the country turning to donkeys for draught power. In these areas they are being used for ploughing and other farm work, carrying firewood and water, and even transporting ill or injured people to the nearest health centre. Yet because they are not bred for their meat or milk, donkeys are very low-status animals. They commonly suffer from disease, malnutrition and cracked hooves, are beaten and neglected, and also develop sores and wounds from being made to use carts, ploughs and harness which were designed for oxen and not suitable for donkeys.
The Mwamfumba Co-Operative Animal Welfare Society (MCAWS) asked us for funding towards a donkey welfare project in the rural Chibombo district of Zambia's Central Province. At the time it was doing its best to treat donkeys within a 300km radius with a 'mobile clinic' consisting of a broken motorbike which was often off the road. We agreed to pay for the MCAWS to train some of the district's community livestock workers in donkey health and welfare, providing a sustainable local service.
In 2010 the MCAWS ran two 10-day training courses for groups of livestock workers and awarded them certificates bearing The Donkey Sanctuary logo. The courses were facilitated and assessed by the government vets and training officers. The money we provided also paid for some veterinary medicines and treatments including de-wormers, and two bicycles to enable field workers to travel around.