Sidmouth-based The Donkey Sanctuary launched emergency fund for mule owners

Jaditha Mwinzi owns 4 donkeys which carry water for her family and her livestock. They also bring he

Jaditha Mwinzi owns 4 donkeys which carry water for her family and her livestock. They also bring her an income carrying maize, millet, sorghum, cow peas and charcoal. She lost two donkeys in the 2009 drought but saved the others by reducing their workload. Picture: © Crispin Hughes - Credit: © Crispin Hughes

An emergency fund to help working donkey and mule owners in Africa, Asia and the Americas following the coronavirus outbreak has been launched by Sidmouth-based charity The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund will help the most vulnerable people have access to the support they need as well as protecting the welfare of donkeys and mules who will be working harder than ever.

The Donkey Sanctuary will work with partners and international development organisations to fund interventions that directly change the lives of working donkeys and their owners.

The Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund will provide funding to a wide range of situations, for example, that of The Donkey Sanctuary’s strategic partner, Animal Nepal.

As part of the Covid-19 lockdown in Nepal, all non-essential services and industries were ordered to close down, and this included the country’s brick kilns, most of which are located on the peripheries of Kathmandu valley and Dhading. The labourers and working equines within the brick kilns are often working and living in the harshest conditions, and represent some of the poorest households. As a result of the lockdown, they had become stranded with minimal supplies and were unable to feed their animals or travel home.

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The Donkey Sanctuary agreed to co-fund an intervention with Animal Nepal to gain government permission to transport and distribute urgent relief supplies to the workers and donkeys at the kilns. Emergency relief packages for equine-owning households containing 25 days’ worth of equine feed, and rice, daal and basic sanitary items for owners, were distributed to 167 families and 901 donkeys within the Lalitpur, Dhading and Nepalgunj districts.

Mike Baker, chief executive of The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The global coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the livelihoods of working donkey owners, at a time when many are already being impacted by climate change, conflict and crop failure...

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“The Donkey Sanctuary knows that by tackling the wellbeing of the working animals and the people who work with them, we can support both to be more resilient in an increasingly complex and difficult world.”

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