What is PAD Conference?
Donkeys, also known as “Beast of Burden”, were the first domesticated animals in Africa, making them true African livestock and a legacy to the continent. In Africa, donkeys are invisible workers and helpers, a key part of the livelihood component in families for work and companionship, ensuring water access market access, social inclusion and supporting agriculture, thus instrumental in meeting some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Donkeys across Africa are subjected to tough lives of mistreatment, cruelty, and abuse largely because of their owners’ use and handling practices; inadequate and affordable quality veterinary and Farriery services; and governments and institutions do not prioritize donkeys as critical livestock in policy and programs. Donkeys are now facing an even greater threat to their welfare and survival as a result of mass slaughter; Kenya alone, lost 301,977 donkeys between 2016 and 2018, driven by the Chinese community’s high demand for donkey skin due to a traditional belief that their skins and some body parts have medicinal properties.
The very fact that donkeys provide for the welfare of crops and animals, implies that they contribute to environmental welfare through the manure from the crops and animals, as well as the wealth that reduces the risk of poor people reverting to practices, which amount to mining the environment for their survival. These basic facts, albeit empirically drawn, imply that a donkey is more valuable when alive than when dead. A working donkey brings to a household 15 times more income than a donkey that has been sold for slaughter (KALRO 2019).
As observed in a publication by brooke, the donkey and the role it plays in the community and overall socio-economic development is often neglected, and hence its plight lacks policy frameworks and other initiatives to drive its contribution to the ‘agro-socio-economic’ development of Africa, including addressing the capacity gaps of women as the leading handlers of this animal.
In addition, in recent years, reports from many countries across Africa and across the globe have demonstrated that donkeys are now faced with bigger welfare and existential threat from the burgeoning demand for their skin propelled by a Chinese traditional belief that their skins and some body parts have medicinal properties. From the USA, Mexico, Chile, and Brazil, to Australia and Africa, the very survival of donkey populations is being challenged.
Lack of recognition of the role of donkeys in development and the emerging threats to its existence has persuaded the Specialized Technical Office of the Animal Resources Sector in Africa; The African Union – Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), that there is an urgent need to initiate a platform upon which dialogues on the issues around the donkey; including from the socio-economic perspective of the impact of the donkey on the animal resources sector, are held. This, will enable Africa, for the first time, to have a platform to speak about the donkey across various thematic areas.
Efforts have been made to address donkey welfare issues, including the 2019 Donkey Skin Trade Regional Conference convened by IGAD and Brooke East Africa, the 2021 Brooke West Africa Regional Conference on the devastating impact of the donkey skin trade in Africa and a resounding further meeting of ECOWAS ministers held in 2021.
African Union – AU-IBAR, IGAD and the Tanzanian government through their line ministries responsible for livestock and agriculture and animal welfare organizations (The Brooke) will in this context organize a two days conference that will take on the theme of “Donkeys in Africa Now and in the Future“. The conference will bring together targeted participants drawn from the governments across Africa, academia, research, representatives of donkey keepers/users, legislators from national and regional Assemblies, scientists, and advocates from all over the world to discuss and draw practical recommendations to support donkeys’ welfare and existence.