Road in Mauritania’s capital honours working equine charity

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Many local animal owners attended the official opening of Rue du Spana in Mauritania's capital Nouakchott.
Many local animal owners attended the official opening of Rue du Spana in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott. © Spana

A road in the capital of  Mauritania in West Africa has been officially named after global animal welfare charity Spana in recognition of more than two decades of lifesaving work with animals across the country.

An inauguration ceremony was held in Nouakchott at the weekend to officially name Rue du Spana (Spana Road). It was attended by Spana (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) Chief Executive, Linda Edwards, and was also attended by local officials, including the Mayor of El Mina and the Chief of Police, as well as hundreds of donkey and horse owners who have relied on Spana’s essential work.

Following the opening, a major new education agreement was signed by Spana and the government of Mauritania to confirm Spana’s selection as the animal welfare organisation for a new ‘Green Schools’ pilot project, which will bring animal welfare lessons to about 60 schools in Mauritania. Spana will partner with bodies including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainability, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the German Development Corporation.

Students taking part in the new project will be taught about topics relating to the environment and sustainable development, and – in line with the historic, recent UN animal welfare nexus resolution – will learn about the need for good animal welfare.

“The new education agreement we have signed with the government of Mauritania is truly groundbreaking and will have an extremely positive impact on the lives of working animals,” Edwards said.

“Our animal welfare education programmes are helping the next generation of owners and policy makers; by developing young people’s knowledge about animals, we can inspire the next generation and create a future that’s kinder to animals.”

In November 2021, Spana celebrated 20 years of working in Mauritania. Edwards said she was proud of the significant difference Spana has made across Mauritania over the past two decades, and honoured that the work had been recognised through the naming of the new road.

The official opening ceremony of Rue du Spana in Nouakchott, Mauritania was attended by local officials and hundreds of donkey and horse owners who have relied on Spana’s essential work.
The official opening ceremony of Rue du Spana in Nouakchott, Mauritania was attended by local officials and hundreds of donkey and horse owners who have relied on Spana’s essential work. © Spana

Demand for Spana’s services in Mauritania is considerable. More than 397,000 working horses and donkeys support the livelihoods of poverty-stricken families in the country. By doing the work of trucks, tractors and taxis – and transporting food, water, firewood and other essential goods – these animals make it possible for their owners to earn a small income and survive. Before the launch of Spana operations in the country, there was no veterinary assistance available for working equines in Mauritania.

Edwards said the charity’s veterinary treatment is ensuring that many animals can live a life free from suffering, and the training it provides to owners is improving the care they are giving to their animals and preventing often entirely avoidable problems.

Last year alone, despite the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Spana team in Mauritania provided vital veterinary treatment to more than 70,000 sick and injured working animals, along with animal welfare training and advice to more than 23,900 animal owners. More than 5400 children also received animal welfare education, designed to promote positive behaviour towards animals.

“The achievements of our team in Mauritania, and the progress made, should be celebrated. But in this time of exceptional need for SPANA’s help, we will continue to work tirelessly towards delivering a lasting transformation working animal welfare,” Edwards said.

Today, SPANA operates three veterinary centres, in the capital city of Nouakchott, and in the towns of Rosso and Boghé. The charity also runs mobile clinics, which provide treatment to animals in more remote, rural areas.

Linda Edwards, Chief Executive at official ceremony opening Rue du Spana.
Linda Edwards, Chief Executive at official ceremony opening Rue du Spana. © Spana

In addition to essential animal welfare and veterinary care, the charity has also been providing emergency support for working animals in Mauritania during the global pandemic, including supplying lifesaving feed for malnourished animals whose owners have been affected by loss of income due to lockdown restrictions.

Local officials including the Mayor of El Mina and the Chief of Police attended the Spana Road opening with Spana's Linda Edwards.
Local officials including the Mayor of El Mina and the Chief of Police attended the Spana Road opening with Spana’s Linda Edwards. © Spana

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