The Donkey Sanctuary has co-hosted a South Asia regional workshop in Nepal on animal welfare, child and bonded labour and the environment in brick kilns.
The workshop on 21 and 22 November was co-hosted with colleagues at Brooke and supported by the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC). The event brought together representatives from the labour, environment and animal welfare sectors as well as local brick kiln owners’ federations for the first time.
Our global programme manager Kate Ferguson said: “The brick kiln owner federations are the gateway to making significant and lasting change, so it was really inspiring to see their active engagement and appetite to improve conditions for all in the brick making industry.”
Together participants worked on a process of joint action planning and made significant progress in addressing the complex issues in the region’s brick kilns. Donkeys and mules are used to transport bricks within the factories and can suffer injuries from carrying loads that are too heavy, poorly fitting harnesses and poor owner behaviour – all of which can be addressed through basic training and the introduction of minimum standards.
The traditional brick kiln industry is the backbone of urban development throughout South Asia. It employs millions of people as well as hundreds of thousands of animals working in hazardous and gruelling working conditions. It generates highly polluting emissions that impact on the environment. With thick dust, temperatures of up to 50°C (122°F) and very little shade, people and animals can suffer from breathing problems, injuries and malnutrition.
The workshop follows the successful Pokhara Conference in Nepal in January 2017, supported by The Donkey Sanctuary, Brooke, SAIEVAC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) where regional commitments for change were made. The workshop meetings allowed the network of organisations to start developing more detailed regional and country-level action plans, as well as a model of regional and national coordination.
Watch this space for further updates once our final workshop report has been published.