A call for prayer and donkey welfare

The dulcet tones of the pre-dawn (4am) Islamic ‘Call to Prayer’ blaring from speakers at Mandera mosques set the scene for the day.

Call to Prayer

I was soon to learn that these loudspeakers play a vital role in one of Practical Action’s projects.

Background

There are 191,664 donkeys in Mandera. They plough, carry water and firewood and transport produce to market. Because of their low status, donkeys are often overloaded, neglected or mistreated.

Donkey owners here are often squeezed out of pastoralism as a result of drought. They want to get the most out of their donkeys to earn enough money to live on. However, the poor physical condition of their donkeys makes them unable to realise their economic potential.

Practical Action is working with animal welfare charity The Brook to improve the lives of donkeys by changing management practices and care for these animals.

What we’re doing

Many people in Mandera are illiterate, so we’ve teamed up with radio stations to promote donkey welfare and produced these billboards that have been erected all over the town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So where do the mosque loudspeakers come in?

We’re also working with the Mandera branch of the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa, which promotes good deeds for the “betterment of the community”. They’re helping Practical Action by preaching to an estimated 80,000 people about donkey welfare at markets, water points and at the 40 mosques in the town. Yesterday they also used the mosque loudspeakers to promote donkey welfare. If I’d understood Arabic, I would have been able to hear what they said as I laid in my bed.

And we’ve worked with them and the town council to get a by-law passed that stops people mistreating their animals. If people breach the by-law they can be fined, jailed or given a community punishment order.

Success

It’s clear that this project has been a success – donkey owners understand the linkages between the welfare of their animal and the success of their business and now they’ve been educated about the issue, they’re educating others.

When I travelled through the town, I didn’t see donkeys being whipped with huge sticks and I didn’t see their carts being overloaded. I didn’t see donkeys in a poor condition. What I did see were donkeys being fed and watered and being looked after. I saw happy donkeys and happy owners…and I fell asleep, happy…happy that I’d witnessed another Practical Action project that’s making a difference to the lives of poor people.

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