With our support, our partner in Somaliland has successfully campaigned for the introduction of a new law protecting donkeys’ welfare – work is now ongoing to ensure its implementation.

Acting to help injured donkeys is an important part of our work, but so too is advocating policy change to protect their welfare – for example, raising the status of downtrodden donkeys in Somaliland has been handed a boost thanks to the introduction of a new by-law, championed by The Donkey Sanctuary’s in-country partner.

Thanks to your support, we have been able to back the Social & Animal Welfare Service (SAWS) in its mission to bring in a donkey welfare by-law in the Burcao district, where negative myths, inhumane practices and malnutrition have left donkeys to suffer in silence for years, in spite of the vital role that they play.

Donkeys support the poorest people in the community by pulling carts of goods, firewood, building materials, and by taking waste from local restaurants. Often young boys without a comprehensive education, the donkeys’ owners and handlers have no other source of income and earn less than £55 a week.

The by-law is the first of its kind in Somaliland, and its introduction was a key milestone for animal welfare progress, but now work is needed to ensure it has a real and lasting impact for thousands of affected donkeys.

Donkeys carrying jerry cans in Somaliland
Social and Animal Welfare Service members wearing The Donkey Sanctuary shirts
A Donkey Sanctuary staff member with donkey in Somaliland

The Donkey Sanctuary has agreed to fund a programme of work which aims to promote and enforce the by-law for working donkeys to prevent them from abuse, cruelty, maltreatment and abandonment in the future.

Hassan Mohamed Aden, SAWS executive director, says: “Donkeys have not been given the care they deserve in terms of development, regardless of the vital role they play in the socioeconomic life of the poor people. In general, very little is known about working donkeys; they are given less consideration than other species of livestock, they are neglected in allocation of resources such as food, shelter and equipment because they belong to the poorest members of the Somali society.”

Behaviour change among communities is rarely immediate, but this project will educate donkey owners, vet students, local authorities and community leaders about the new legislation through workshops, leaflets, implementation sessions and media broadcasts on television, radio, print and digital, while constantly monitoring the welfare of the region’s donkeys to measure its impact.

Alex Mayers, The Donkey Sanctuary’s head of global programmes, says: “We are delighted that by bringing various groups together including donkey owners, the police, the municipal leaders and members of the public, SAWS have been able to develop a unique piece of donkey protection legislation like this.

“By bringing people together in the process to talk about the problems faced by donkeys, there is more understanding than ever and an amazing level of commitment in the community to enforce a by-law which they helped to design.

“Having seen the issues that the donkeys in Somaliland are faced with, a strong level of protection is certainly needed. We’re really proud of what SAWS has achieved so far, and are excited to see how this advocacy develops in Burcao district and across Somaliland in the coming months.”

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