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.