Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Visiting the Brooke’s Equine welfare projects in India

It was a real privilege for the Director of the JMICAWE, Prof Nat Waran, to spend a few days in the company of The Brooke India team and Brooke UK Head of research, Dr Karen Reed, on a recent trip to India. The Brooke is an international animal welfare charity with a focus on improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules in some of the world's poorest communities. In India there are an estimated 1.2 million equines. Most of these are working animals, pulling loads in places like the brick kilns near to Delhi, where they may cart around 4,000 bricks a day, helping their owner to earn 400 Indian Rupees or about £5.50 a day. With half the money going into feeding their horse, this leaves very little to feed and clothe the family.

The Brooke charity supports Indian equine owners to improve the health and welfare of their animal by providing knowledge, advise and practical help, and in doing so this helps to improve the welfare of the family who rely so heavily on that animal. Whilst in with the local team members, Prof Nat visited five different brick kilns as well as a women’s group. She was impressed by the progress that had been made through the Brooke’s input and the variety of community based approaches used for helping people to come up with their own solutions. The Brooke teams do this through using a human development tool called Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) which uses group exercises, role plays and pictures, and example to share information between participants and they encourage communities themselves to come up with solutions, providing additional input where necessary. For example, in the brick Kiln visited,  strips from old rubber tyres were being used to make a safer and more comfortable place to tether animals than the previously used inflexible and hazardous wooden posts. The main aims of the various approaches used are all in line with the following which are all about;

  • Ensuring that separate water facilities, shelter, provision of first aid, local health practitioners and even road surfaces are available at all brick kiln sites.
  • Teaching equine owners to adopt welfare friendly practices and animal husbandry skills 
  • Encouraging animal-owning communities to establish self-help groups with their own bank accounts, to overcome issues with credit.


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