The International Coalition of Working Equids (ICWE), made up of Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA and World Horse Welfare, came together for a workshop as part of the 7th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference held in Bangalore, India, on 4–7 March.
The workshop focused on the critical role of working horses, donkeys and mules in sustainable development, welfare issues in brick kilns, community programmes and the training of veterinarians in animal welfare.
An estimated 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules contribute to the livelihoods of many poor communities around the world. Yet, their contribution does not receive the same recognition as other livestock in policies and programmes.
Furthermore, gaps in education and training of animal health practitioners and lack of awareness of good welfare practices amongst equine owners mean that all over the world equids suffer unnecessarily.
Implementing global standards
ICWE was set up in 2016 following the adoption of global welfare standards for working horses, donkeys and mules by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The coalition of charities has committed to supporting the implementation of these standards around the world.
Nigel Wilson, director of international programmes, Brooke, said: “Veterinarians and paraprofessionals have a pivotal role to play in improving equine welfare across Commonwealth countries and beyond. We hope that delegates of the 7th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference take the ICWE message home – working equids matter to sustainable development.”
Roly Owers, chief executive, World Horse Welfare, said: “It is vital that we work in partnership to have any significant reach to even a fraction of the millions of animals at risk. ICWE is a great example of this type of partnership and it is so appropriate for us to be promoting this in Asia at the CVA conference this week.”
In the coming months, the ICWE coalition will be involved in producing practical guidance to implement OIE standards on equine welfare to support World Bank projects. It will also be present at a range of high-level international forums, such as the United Nations High Level Political Forum in New York as well as the All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture conference in Accra, Ghana, continuing to advocate for working equids.
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