Pandemic highlights life-saving role of working donkeys

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MAWO trains farmers to make humane saddle packs for donkeys from local recycled materials.
MAWO trains farmers to make humane saddle packs for donkeys from local recycled materials. © MAWO

An animal welfare organisation in Tanzania is buoyed that its work in recent years has paid dividends through the Covid-19 pandemic, as it continues to bring help to communities and their working donkeys and horses.

Meru Animal Welfare Organization (MAWO) founder Johnson Lyimo said the importance of the charity’s work in training owners to care for their animals in the past decade has been made evident during the pandemic.

“We watched how critical donkeys were in helping communities avoid the spread of Covid-19 by helping to carry water for hygiene, or providing the sole transportation of food and supplies throughout the pandemic,” he said.

“I once read how donkeys helped people in World War II. In this new era when our globe has faced a very
different, yet equally interconnected and massive challenge, we stand in awe of the many human lives these equine companions have saved,” said Lyimo, who founded MAWO in 2010.

“Seeing the difference we can make in their lives and in those of so many other animals is what fuels our team to fight for their protection in years to come.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, it trained 20 new “Donkey Welfare Champions”,  community leaders and livestock owners in rural areas who learn about donkey welfare and how to help save the lives of donkeys in emergency situations. These people are often the first responders to animal needs. The Donkey Welfare Champions have learned hoof trimming, how to make humane donkey harnesses, and how to provide adequate feeding and shelter for the donkeys.

In the Arusha region in Northern Tanzania, more than 3000 donkeys were treated at MAWO mobile clinics, and 46 public areas were provided with water troughs for donkeys who carry goods to markets.

MAWO has continued efforts to provide free donkey clinics in northern parts of Tanzania, where we have treated 521 donkeys in 2021.
MAWO has continued efforts to provide free donkey clinics in northern parts of Tanzania, where it has treated 521 donkeys so far this year. © MAWO

MAWO also contributed to efforts to curb the spread of the virus by providing hygiene kits to 30 dispensaries in Simanjiro, in an initiative with The Donkey Sanctuary.

Its education initiatives reached 2347 primary school children and 671 training college students, with demonstrations of correct animal welfare and its practical application. As a part of MAWO’s Mobile Donkey Clinics, MAWO also facilitated Animal Welfare School Clubs which have more than 904 members. Staff educate members on animal welfare and its importance in the community, thereby creating awareness of animal welfare issues from a young age. MAWO also collaborated with Jungle Doctor to sponsor a special trip for 80 children from the Enjoro primary school to learn about their local natural treasures and environmental protection.

"Donkey Welfare Champions" learn about donkey welfare and how to help save the lives of donkeys in emergency situations.
“Donkey Welfare Champions” learn about donkey welfare and how to help save the lives of donkeys in emergency situations. © MAWO

This year MAWO has continued to provide free donkey clinics in northern parts of Tanzania. With the help of partners Spana and World Horse Welfare, it has already treated 521 donkeys. It has also continued to host mobile clinics for dogs, sheep and goats, providing vaccinations and regular deworming at no cost, as well as rabies vaccinations for dogs.

It has also recently launched a Board of Advisors made up of non-profit organizers, animal advocates, and long-time supporters. Its role will be to help MAWO expanding fundraising opportunities, build the base of volunteers and advocates in North America, and support the Tanzanian board and staff in educational and financial initiatives. Its US-based board members are Sofia Davis-Fogel, John Elliott, Dr Dominica Genda, Francy Hall, Caitlin O’Shea, Danielle Williams and Nancy Hoffmann.

» More on MAWO’s projects

 

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