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Working worldwide - Collaboration

Local and regional networking

News in brief

The lives of donkeys can be as complex as the lives of the people who rely on them. We work collaboratively with other animal welfare organisations, governments and organisations working to improve the whole lives of both donkeys and people.

Malawi

Donkeys have only been in Malawi for a relatively recent time. With an economy largely based on subsistence agriculture, Malawian farmers around the capital, Lilongwe, use donkeys to carry produce from their farms, building materials in carts and, increasingly, for ploughing their fields. Harnesses and carts are often poorly adapted from those used with cattle, causing pain and injuries to the donkeys. Unstable weather patterns also cause welfare problems for donkeys and people who don’t have protection from droughts and floods.

Taking cues from Zambia

As with many communities where we work, donkeys in Malawi are misunderstood and under-valued. Farmers lack basic knowledge about donkey care and proper use of carts and harnesses, leading to several welfare issues. In order to explore ways to educate them and create a system that encourages knowledge-sharing, our partner in Malawi, the Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (LSPCA), was keen to learn about the work being done by the Mwamfumba Animal Welfare Society in Zambia, where a 12-year-old programme has been successful in transforming the lives of donkeys and farmers.

In August, two LSPCA team members travelled to Zambia along with a government official and four lead farmers from Mpingu and Chigonthi. Through theory and practical lessons, they learned about harnessing, balancing load, cart making, ploughing and community training. Encouraged by what they saw and learnt, LSPCA has launched community training sessions and will be making presentations to the Lilongwe district’s animal health and agriculture departments. They are also making four donkey carts for use as demonstration tools by the four lead farmers during these sessions.