Donkeys have traditionally been used for carrying heavy loads of agricultural goods, sand & mud throughout the India. Vadar, Dhobi, Kumbar & Kaikadi communities are dependent on donkeys for earning. They are the most efficient yet the most neglected transporters in India. They are suffering from various social and health problems because no care, no shelter and no health services are extended. To attend the most neglected animal, we started our intervention through Equine welfare project (EWP) in Nanded district in 2010-11 by partnering with The Brooke – India. The vision of the project is “healthy working equine”. This year we reached to approximately 5236 equines from 576 families in 104 villages from Nanded dist area. The project is based on five freedoms.
Five freedoms of the project –
- Freedom from Hunger and thirst.
- Freedom from discomfort.
- Freedom from pain, injuries and diseases.
- Freedom for express natural behavior.
- Freedom for fear and distress.
The activities to achieve the five freedoms –
- To improve the knowledge of owners on equine welfare.
- To improve the capacities of local service providers (LHP, government veterinary officers.)
- To Provide emergency & regular quality veterinary treatment to working equines;
- To improve the relationship with policy makers and advocate them on equine welfare.
Awareness & Community motivation
Animals often become sick because of a lack of proper food and clean water – their owners simply can’t afford to provide it – and difficult terrain and climate create a tough environment for them. These working equine animals play a major part in agricultural and transport but financial pressures often forces owners to overwork them. So we stared our intervention with community meetings, aware them on proper animal handling. We also facilitated equine Owners in house & field level training program on common diseases like
- Surra, Colic, tetanus its symptoms, cause & prevention practices.
- Wound management.
- Uses of first Aid Kits.
- Stable cleaning.
- Proper feeding & watering.
- Grooming & hoof cleaning.
Enhancing local health services
In Rural area many LHP are working as a local Heath providers after completing two years diploma but they only treated large animals & ignored equines as they do not have skills in equines.
Adequately trained vets with the knowledge and experience to treat working horses, donkeys and mules are very hard to find. So we arranged several meetings with these LHP & after knowing his interest in equines we trained them step wise & session wise on equine treatment & care. In this process we respected their ground work experience. With common understanding we facilitated co- learning & experience sharing process so that we can provide quality health service for working equines. Last year we arranged 16 in-house training workshops in which 24 Local Health Providers from working area were participated & now they are providing health service in respective areas.
In respect of sustainability we also selected one equine owner from each village who is more interested in animal care & take lead in this program as community motivator called as an Ashwamitra. In last year we conducted 10 Ashwamitra training workshops, the main role of Ashwamitra is to carry out ground level meetings, facilitate equine checkups & provide primary treatment to needful equines we build their capacities on
- Animal Handling.
- Uses of First Aid Box.
- Group meetings
- Record keeping
These Aswamitra is now taking care of primary care of working animals & the working equines are getting primary treatment in time.
Free emergency Treatment
In rural area still today the local health provider & government vets are lacking of knowledge on Equine diseases so we also provide free emergency treatment to working equines. Last year we provided free health service to 4500 animals in which 2500 cases are treated by our staff members.
First aid Box
In this working area most of the villages are lacking of medicals shop at village level. All the time they need to rush to the taluka for drugs & it also affect on animal health condition that leads to more sever. So we had group meetings with the equine owner & encouraged equine owner to from a medical kit at individual level called as First aid Kit.
This kit contains Common medicines like cotton bandage, pincher iodine & pain killers etc. So that the equine owner can do wound management give reduce the pains of the animals. Last year we formed 108 First Aid Kits in 56 Villages. These kits are very useful in primary treatment as this year near about 1500 animals are treated by these kits in Colic, lameness & wound management. To strengthen this process we provided trainings & practical demo on field.
Equine Welfare Groups
The equine owner play a vital role in Agricultural transportation in Rural area but still today they do not have a common platform to discuss, plan, & raise their issues in collectives. We motivated & encouraged equine owner to form collectives called as Equine welfare Group at village level institution for equine owning communities. Now these equine owners are coming together on a common platform where they can discuss, share their experience & move forward collectively for equine welfare. In last year we formed 35 equine welfare Groups. Equine owners are coming forward through these platforms now for regular vaccination program like
Tetanus, Surra & scheduled deworming practices that also reduced mortality rate as well as the cost of medicines as they are linked with medical shops & barging with the shop keeper. In future they are planning to make efforts for common Animal health insurance & accessing government hospitals.