Gebreasay Woldu is the Harness and Extension Officer for our Tigray project in Ethiopia and wrote this blog about his work:
With rugged hills and mountains, Dansa village in Hintalo Wijerat district, 9 miles from Mekelle city in Tigray region, is the home of 250 donkeys in 300 households. The community in Dansa village relies heavily on subsistence farming. Every Monday and Friday many donkey owners in Dansa village transport vegetables and fruits to markets in Mekelle town. Due to uneven hilly topography, donkey owners in the village have to fasten a strap to a pack saddle looping under the tail of their donkey to prevent the load from slipping forward. In the past the strap was a rough thin rope which caused a wound under the tail, known as a crupper wound, on many donkeys. Based on an assessment we did two years back in a focus group discussion with donkey owners in Dansa village, 97% of donkeys had crupper wounds.
In the last two years we have worked closely with donkey owners in Dansa village to tackle crupper sores through a series of focus group discussions.
A group of harness makers were also trained to make packsaddles with properly designed straps made of wool. Haftu Hailu is one of them. He makes packsaddles from wool or old blankets with properly designed and fitted straps. He has made many packsaddles and sold them to donkey owners. Attributed to the wider use of improved packsaddles the prevalence of crupper sores dramatically dropped in Dansa village in the past two years. On average, crupper sores are down to 10% in the village.
A 45-year-old farmer and resident in Dansa Village, Zenebe Mesfin, has three donkeys. He uses his three donkeys to transport vegetables and fruits to Mekelle city twice a week.
‘’Before I met staff from the Donkey Sanctuary in Ethiopia all my three donkeys had under-tail wound and I kept loading them even though they had sores.”
Since meeting us two years ago and learning about how to prevent crupper sores, his donkeys have been free from the wounds.