The International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE) is celebrating its fifth anniversary of collaborative work to improve the health and welfare of working equids globally.

ICWE is comprised of Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), and World Horse Welfare. All four charities work with rural communities around the world, supporting working equids and the people who depend on them for their livelihoods.

Over the last five years, the coalition has worked with the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) to support the implementation of the working equid standards, outlined in the Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

“Throughout its history, the World Organisation for Animal Health has repeatedly demonstrated how protecting animal health and welfare can help improve people’s lives,” said Dr Monique Eloit, Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health. “Working equids are a telling example as they contribute directly and indirectly to households’ livelihoods and benefit communities as a whole.

“We will continue to strive to bring positive and impactful change for animals and people, particularly in areas where today’s global challenges put at risk these communities”

ICWE at the UN. Credit: Brooke

ICWE has worked in partnership with government officials on best equine welfare practices – from assessment tools to handling techniques – and also to raise awareness and recognition of working equine populations and their importance.

The coalition has also presented at international forums such as the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, the One Welfare Conference, and the EU Intergroup for Animal Welfare. ICWE’s attendance has ensured that working equids are included in conversations where they may have otherwise been overlooked.

Over the last few years, the coalition has provided knowledge and practical support during various disease outbreaks, including the 2019 outbreak of equine influenza in West Africa and the 2020 outbreak of African Horse Sickness in Thailand. Last year, ICWE drew on the expertise of its members to support equines and their owners in Nepal during an outbreak of Glanders disease.

Looking ahead, ICWE continues to support WOAH on the implementation of the Working Equid Standards within the Terrestrial Animal Health Code and is launching a library of supplementary information. This will assist officials in countries across the globe to put these standards into practice, supported by the latest evidence and advice on how to measure and enforce the implementation of good welfare practices.

Lead image by Xaume Olleros for Brooke

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