Absorbine® is celebrating our 125th Anniversary by sponsoring Brooke, helping to alleviate the suffering of working equines in developing countries. In this segment of our blog series, we learn about Brooke’s ‘Free the Donkeys’ campaign, which aims to build shade shelters in Ethiopian market places to prevent heat related illness and death of working donkeys.
This summer, one of Brooke’s main projects is the Free the Donkeys campaign, which seeks to alleviate suffering and mortality of donkeys in Ethiopian marketplaces. There are nine million equines in Ethiopia, making it one of the largest populations in the world. 73% of these animals are donkeys, the vast majority of which live in rural areas. These donkeys walk many miles in the scorching sun, carrying heavy burdens to market, where they then continue to stand in the sun without food or water. Many of these animals suffer from colic and premature death due to dehydration.
The goal of Brooke’s Free the Donkey campaign is to build shade shelters in the marketplaces of Bulle and Gedeb, where the Ethiopian government has provided land. These shelters, which will be able to house 300 equines at a time and 500 equines per day will offer shade, fly protection, food, and water. A similar shelter, built in the marketplace of Halaba has seen donkey death due to dehydration drop from 87% to nearly 0% and losses due to theft decrease from 54% to 0%. The structures will be built by the local community and will be constructed from concrete blocks and timber with tin roofs. Both individual stalls and large holding areas will offer donkeys a safe place to rest and recover from their journeys, as well as to eat, drink, and prepare for the return trip home.
Hay fed in the shelter will be sourced locally, which will encourage the growth of green forage within the local economy and help to support farmers. Brooke plans to train horse-taxi drivers to manage the shelter, maintain the building, and provide basic veterinary care for the donkeys. Owners will be charged a fee of around 20 to 45 U.S. cents to leave their animal for a two to three hour period. All money collected will be used to pay workers’ wages, provide food and water for the animals, and to help with shelter upkeep. Brooke has seen the incredible difference that a shade shelter can make in the lives of a community’s donkeys and people and hopes to reach even more donkeys this summer with the help of generous donors.
Brooke USA, a fundraising charity that provides support to international working equine welfare programs such as those carried out by Brooke, is the principle funder of the Free the Donkeys campaign. So far they are half way to their goal of raising $98,000 to construct the shade shelters and train the community members who will run them.