The Donkey Sanctuary is taking steps to offset its air travel carbon emissions by supporting CO2-balancing projects in Africa.
At The Donkey Sanctuary, we pledge to help donkeys all across the world; but naturally, this has its own impact on the planet. Since early 2017 we have supported three projects in Africa to offset the environmental impact that can arise from international travel.
Working with an organisation called CO2balance, we have been able to support schemes that provide boreholes and more efficient stoves for communities in Kenya and Eritrea. Not only has this work helped us to save 387 tonnes of carbon dioxide, but it has also helped to decrease the workload of donkeys by saving 299 tonnes of wood that would usually fall to them to transport.
The burden of wood collection to fuel fires falls on donkeys. We have collaborated with the Kenyan and Eritrea Improved Cook Stove Projects to provide better stoves for those in working communities. This effort halves the amount of firewood needed, leading to a reduction in the donkeys' workloads and a reduction in carbon emissions produced from the burnt wood.
The stoves also provide a healthier method of cooking, as they reduce indoor smoke by half. This particular issue, which the World Health Organisation has dubbed the “kitchen killer”, is a serious problem in Africa and responsible for 1.9 million deaths every year. CO2balance has reported that instances of serious illness related to indoor smoke have gone down in number by 140 cases since the beginning of our partnership.
Most families within Eritrea own a donkey whose task it is to carry water as well as wood. By supporting the Eritrean Borehole Project, The Donkey Sanctuary helps to identify and repair the many broken boreholes in order to provide easily-accessible, clean water. As well as the natural health benefits this brings to these communities, it means that families no longer have to boil polluted water, saving firewood and preventing carbon emissions from being released.
According to an impact report compiled by CO2balance, through the “rehabilitation of local community boreholes, people can source their water closer to home, rather than walk further to find an alternative water source. This means less travelling for the donkey and a shorter distance to carry the water back to the home.”
The reduction of this travelling distance has a direct impact on both donkeys and the handlers they serve. Mrs Miriam Belay, who lives Zoba Maekel (central Eritrea), relies on her two donkeys to sustain the livelihoods of herself and her family. While her husband works as a farmer, she and her children use their donkeys to collect water and fire wood.
"Each morning my children and myself used to walk up to three hours a day for collecting water which was very tiresome and time consuming." says Miriam, noting that the water was often dirty and that people who drank it were getting sick. Thanks to the Eritrean Borehole Project, it now takes only fifteen minutes for Miriam, her children and her donkeys to get to a fresh, clean water supply.
CO2balance estimates that The Donkey Sanctuary's supported projects have saved 5,372 working hours (671 days) in Eritrean and Kenyan communities while offsetting carbon dioxide emissions. We aim to help not only global donkeys and the communities that depend on them, but also to carry out our international work in a way that helps make the earth a more sustainable place for donkeys of the future.