International Coalition for Working Equids Workshop Providing Practical Training in Lesotho a Success


The International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE) was pleased with the success of a workshop they facilitated for senior animal welfare representatives from 24 countries as part of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Focal Point Regional Seminar for Africa this October.


The practical day was part of the OIE’s week of training for the Focal Points – representatives of Veterinary Services who work on veterinary and animal welfare policy - and was funded by the EU, the government of Lesotho and ICWE, a coalition comprised of working animal welfare charities Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA and World Horse Welfare. A field clinic hosted by World Horse Welfare’s programme in Ha Ntsi, outside of the capital Maseru, provided a practical opportunity to demonstrate to participants how the new OIE Terrestrial Chapter on Working Equids could be applied to improve working equid welfare.


Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, which currently chairs the coalition, said:

“We are delighted with the success of the first full-day ICWE workshop, which was the product of excellent collaboration between ICWE charities and the OIE. This was a vitally important opportunity to put the recommendations in the new Chapter on Working Equids into practical terms and demonstrate how they can be used to improve the welfare of working equids both in Africa and around the world.

“Africa has one of the largest populations of donkeys, mules and horses in the world, most of which are essential to the livelihoods of millions of people and their families. Through ICWE and the OIE we have the chance to bring about real change for working horse populations and this workshop in Lesotho is a great example of how together we can help countries meet OIE standards on welfare.”


Four case studies were presented in the morning, demonstrating the role of working equids in four regions of Africa and the typical welfare issues that they may face. SPANA presented on their work in Mauritania; the Egyptian Society for the Protection and Welfare of Working Animals (ESPWWA), in partnership with The Donkey Sanctuary, presented on the Egyptian brick kilns; Brooke presented on the donkey skin trade in Africa, which is a major emerging concern; and World Horse Welfare presented an overview of their project in Lesotho working with the National University of Lesotho, in agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. The case studies generated a lot of interest amongst the delegates and provoked discussion, which continued throughout the rest of the seminar.

The case studies were followed by site visits to see two communities that the World Horse Welfare team are working with, where the participants met around 300 working horses and donkeys and their owners. The delegates were shown how to make welfare assessments using the new Chapter on Working Equids, to assist the participants in identifying how they would apply these assessments in their respective countries.  The welfare of the horses and donkeys in both communities was noted by the delegates to be very good, with an excellent relationship between the equines and their owners.


Dr Kevin Brown, Assistant Programmes Director at The Donkey Sanctuary, said:

“The adoption of the OIE chapter on the Welfare of Working Equids in 2016 was a significant milestone for the lives of millions of working equids around the world. The ICWE day successfully explored how the chapter can be used to raise awareness of the welfare issues that these animals face in the course of their working day, how this welfare can be measured so that it can be improved, and how guidelines can be developed from the chapter and implemented across Africa.”

Dr Mactar Seck, Programme Manager at Brooke West Africa, said: 

"The ICWE day was a success beyond all our expectations, as the focal points showed enthusiasm, interest and commitment. This event is, we hope, the beginning of a sustainable process for the implementation of the standards on working equids in Africa”

Dr Ben Sturgeon, Veterinary Director at SPANA, said:

“This workshop gave SPANA and the other members of ICWE an invaluable opportunity to improve policies around equine welfare across Africa. There was a fantastic participation rate of representatives from OIE member countries, and we were able to engage with them in a practical and pragmatic way. I was particularly pleased to speak about SPANA’s work in Mauritania, where we provide more than 80,000 free veterinary treatments a year to working equids.”

Members of the animal welfare NGOs working on improving the welfare conditions of working equids formed the ICWE coalition to collaborate with the OIE in providing technical support to the OIE and to assist in implementing the new OIE Code Chapter 7.12. on the Welfare of Working Equids to all 182 OIE member states.