The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare will reveal the crucial role donkeys, horses and mules play in collecting and distributing clean, fresh water for millions of people, as part of this year’s World Water Week conference.

The international event to tackle global water challenges commences on Monday 23 August.

On the opening day of the conference on Monday 23 August, virtual event-goers will be able to watch a short film made by The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare of equines supporting communities in collecting water. The film includes a Q&A session with questions from the audience possible via a live chat function.

Valentina Riva, Advocacy Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “In a world of technological innovation, the traditional use of donkeys for collecting water and other resources, carrying out agricultural tasks and environmental management is not always recognised.

“But this invaluable workforce still offers the most practical and affordable means of resource and livelihood security for millions of people. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the inextricable link between human and animal welfare and recognise that improving animal welfare in turn helps human health.”

For many communities, particularly those on a lower income, donkeys, horses and mules can offer the most reliable means of transport where vehicles are too expensive or unsuitable for the terrain.

Working equines also help to promote gender equality by giving women owners’ improved social status and helping to free them from domestic drudgery, such as collecting water from long distances. In turn, this helps women to engage in other income-generating activities and ensure their children go to school.

The storytelling event: “Hidden in Plain Sight: Working Animals, Water Security and Communities” is the first of two being hosted by The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare during World Water Week, which runs from Monday 23 - Friday 27 August.

The second event: “Often Visible Rarely Seen: Working Animals and Water Resilience”, on Wednesday 25 August is purely interactive. Speakers, including Daniela Battaglia from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Kusum Athukorala from NetWater, Thandiwe Chidavarume from Women and Land in Zimbabwe and Kanika Thakar from the Swedish Red Cross, will present and then participate in a live Q&A session.

Both events will run via the main conference platform, Pathable.

The current Covid-19 global health crisis has highlighted the need for access to clean water globally for handwashing and general hygiene. The conference also follows the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control due to the activity of humans.

Ian Cawsey, Director of Advocacy & Campaigns at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “It is a privilege to host live events, which address challenges such as water management in these unprecedented times of climate change, especially with the UK hosting COP-26 later this year. In some of the most challenging parts of the world, well cared for working donkeys, horses and mules are crucial in mitigating the effects of climate change and building resilience to extreme events.“

World Water Week, organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), has been running for 30 years and is a regular feature in the international development calendar.


For interviews, images and information please contact The Donkey Sanctuary press office on 01395 573124 or 07970 927778 (including out of hours) or send an email.

Notes to Editors

The Donkey Sanctuary is the world's largest equine welfare charity. Our vision is a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued. We run 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to more than 7,000 donkeys and mules. Our hospital treats sick donkeys and trains vets both nationwide and worldwide. Our donkey-facilitated learning programme helps vulnerable children and adults develop life skills by connecting with donkeys on an emotional and physical level. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin.

Please note that the name ‘The Donkey Sanctuary’ should not be abbreviated to ‘Donkey Sanctuary’, and the word ‘The’ should always appear with a capital ‘T’ as above.