Brooke USA Launches “Buy a Donkey a Drink” Campaign to Ease Suffering

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In drought-prone developing countries, survival is difficult enough without the added burden of life-threatening heat stress and exhaustion. That’s true for humans and also for the equine animals who labor alongside them in poverty-ravaged areas to help them earn a livelihood.

In Ethiopia, which is plagued by both drought and extreme poverty, working equines are a lifeline for their owners. They are crucial to carrying out backbreaking household chores, plowing fields, taking goods to market, earning extra money so families can pay school fees for their children, and to purchase food, clothing and medicine.

The animals haul construction materials, carry food and water to other livestock, transport relief supplies during natural disasters, and much, much more, all of which contribute to the health and financial stability of individuals, families, and communities. Unfortunately these equines are suffering from a myriad of problems that are exacerbated by chronic dehydration.

Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of the Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, is about to change the future for these animals, thereby helping the families who need them.

“When an equine in the developing world can’t work due to injury, illness or death, it can have a devastating impact on the families who rely on it, observed David Jones, DVM, Chairman of Brooke USA. Jones has seen first-hand the wide-scale suffering of these working equines, and he has also seen the dramatic difference that can occur with regular access to water. He continued, “The single, most crucial step that we can take to alleviate the suffering of the animals in this part of Ethiopia and to ensure a livelihood for their poor owners is to provide access to water.”

Soon 11,500 of these very important animals will have lifetime access to the water they so desperately need, thanks to a new project being funded this summer by Brooke USA donors. Their “Buy a Donkey a Drink” campaign will raise support to construct five permanent water troughs in the Shala Woreda (district) of Ethiopia. These 50-foot-long concrete troughs will be located in very busy market areas where thousands of animals regularly gather.

The troughs will allow as many as 340 horses, donkeys and mules to quench their thirst with each filling, and will allow other livestock such as cattle and camels to receive life-saving water as well.

This project also includes training and facilitating "water committees" among the animal owners in the target area who will be responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the water supply service. They have an important role in ensuring that the equines are properly benefiting from the water troughs. The project will also train the committee members on equine welfare so that they can disseminate information and educate other equine owners and users coming to the water troughs on equine welfare issues.

“As much as the animals will benefit from regular access to water, it is their owners who will be the ultimate beneficiaries because their working partners will be healthier, happier, and better able to continue their important jobs,” concluded Jones.

The fundraising goal is $98,000 over the next three months, which will allow construction of the water troughs to begin at once and be completed in phases by the end of the year.

For more information on this campaign, go to www.BuyaDonkeyaDrink.org or email Info@BrookeUSA.org. For more information on Brooke USA, go to www.BrookeUSA.org.

Brooke USA is a 501(c)(3) charity located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, which exists solely to support the overseas work of the Brooke, the world's largest international equine welfare charity. For more than 80 years, the Brooke has been alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys, and mules who work in some of the poorest communities on earth. The Brooke's scientifically proven, practical, and sustainable solutions to enormous welfare challenges improve the lives of equine animals and the people who depend on them across Africa, Asia, and Central America. Last year alone, the Brooke reached 1.8 million equines, benefiting 10 million people in the developing world. To learn more visit BrookeUSA.org.