Kenya, along with most of East Africa, is slowly recovering from one of the worst droughts to hit the region in over a decade. With crops failing and thousands of animals dying, representatives from The Donkey Sanctuary have been travelling throughout the country helping farmers and communities on the road to recovery.
Donkeys are more resistant to the effects of drought than many other farm animals but they are still suffering. The areas in which The Donkey Sanctuary’s mobile teams work have seen a noticeable decrease in donkey numbers as a result of starvation or being overworked during this period. The teams have observed that the massive loss of oxen in the country has led to donkeys taking on the burden of ploughing, which in turn has led to a vast increase in the numbers of donkeys being treated for wounds on the back of their necks.
The team met one farmer named Mumo Maingi who attended a clinic with his two donkeys, Kavisi and Mwiiti. Before the drought began his two donkeys were used to carry water from a river eight kilometres away, carry firewood from nearby bushes, and take farm produce to the market. After his two oxen starved to death, Mumo was left with no choice but to use the donkeys for hard ploughing without which he would have no crops for his family to eat or sell.
The Donkey Sanctuary team was able to give Mumo advice on how to improve his donkeys’ harness to make them more comfortable and also provide de-worming treatments to keep the donkeys healthy.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Kenyan field officer Wycliffe Gwatemba says: “The whole country has been through an extremely difficult time and it is wonderful to see people and their donkeys on the road to recovery. After the recent rains, we are now seeing re-growth and farmers are working hard to plant crops for next year’s harvest. We are pleased to see donkeys putting on weight and are always pleased to offer support and advice to their owners.”
The Donkey Sanctuary continues to monitor donkeys such as Kavisi and Mwiiti and work with donkey owners offering free support and advice. The charity has been working in Kenya since 1994 to improve conditions for the country’s 600,000 donkeys.
In Kenya, The Donkey Sanctuary works with the Kenya Society for the Protection of Animals (KSPCA) and has teams who travel throughout the country treating sick donkeys and helping farmers improve their donkey welfare through harness improvements and educational initiatives. For more information about the overseas work of The Donkey Sanctuary, visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk