Donkeys lead a miserable life in Jawi district of Amhara Regional State. Male donkeys are purchased by specialized donkey traders mainly from Wollo, South Gondar and North Shoa and sold to donkey users in Jawi kebeles for ploughing for the cultivation of crops. During off-farming season, these donkeys are also used for transporting commodities. A donkey is purchased to serve just for one farming season. They are short-lived. They are used by new settlers who clear bushes and cultivate crops. Donkeys are overworked, exhausted and finally abandoned. There is no training for donkeys nor the owners on handling and management. Harnessing is poor. Owners use oxen yokes for pulling the plough. There are over 30,000 donkeys in Jawi. Jawi is endemic to trypanosomiasis. In the urban areas and its suburbs there are around 400 mules and are at risk of a fungal disease called, epizootic lymphangitis. The Donkey Sanctuary is informed to support improving the welfare of donkeys and mules working with local communities and service providers.
The charity began exploring to improve the welfare of ploughing donkeys in 2015. Through a community based action research. The action research includes conducting welfare assessment and exploring risk factors as causes of the problems while providing the required welfare interventions as immediate needs. The prime objectives of the action research are:
- measuring the welfare status of donkeys in Jawi district
- map the donkey trade routes to Jawi and welfare problems all the way from origin to Jawi.
- understand the knowledge and working practices of donkey users in Jawi area
- provide immediate interventions for those donkeys in need and
- Community partnership and education to empower communities whose livelihood is mainly based on donkey power and trade.
The action research is ongoing:
- Awareness raised for Jawi livestock agency and service providers in donkey welfare and management
- Training has been provided to 6 animal health professionals in Jawi public vet services and private vet clinics
- The Donkey Sanctuary team and the local vets together treated over 2000 donkeys for various health disorders; 200 mules treated for EZL, and 80 owners trained alongside
- Welfare Assessment is being conducted in four sample sites: Fendeka town, Wombelasi, Kumber and Sewatamb; welfare situation while transporting and end of life issues.
- Donkey trade routes identified and awareness created for 10 traders. There are various routes that donkey traders follow. There are more illegal ones than legal ones. One of the longest legal trade route follows Meket (in north Wollo), south Gondar (Este), Bahir Dar, Bure, Dangla, Abadira and Jawi. Transport is both trekking and by the use of track.
- Donkey disposal pit is being constructed for euthanasia of terminally sick and abandoned donkeys
The Donkey Sanctuary is working to establish a sustainable donkey improvement programme in collaboration with local service providers to empower communities.