Recognising donkeys’ crucial but hidden role in humanitarian disasters


Recognising donkeys’ crucial but hidden role in humanitarian disasters

19 October 2021
The Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys and mules play a vital but often unrecognised role in rebuilding disaster-hit communities in low-to middle-income countries, according to new research by The Donkey Sanctuary.

The Donkey Sanctuary marked the United Nations’ International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction with the release of a new research paper: Resilience and the Role of Equids in Humanitarian Crises.

The research shows working animals play an essential role in building resilience and offer crucial support immediately after a disaster. Aid efforts typically focus on people rebuilding the economy as well as damaged buildings, water supplies and communications after a humanitarian crisis but working donkeys and mules are indispensable in the rebuilding process.

Donkeys can transport people in and out of affected areas and deliver life-saving aid to communities, which cannot be reached by vehicles, for example. The animals can also transport materials for the re-building of roads, homes and other buildings damaged during the disaster.

Donkeys and mules are a key part of the social fabric in many lower to middle income countries (LMICs), providing an essential source of income for some of the most marginalised communities in the world. It is often these vulnerable populations, which suffer most when disaster strikes due to a lack of adequate housing, poor infrastructure and limited access to health services.
Cara Clancy, Senior Researcher at The Donkey Sanctuary
Working equines must be considered in the wider context of international development and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ending poverty and hunger for all requires building the resilience of the marginalised and vulnerable to reduce their exposure to climate-related events as well as other environmental shocks. Donkeys and mules help build this resilience.
Tamlin Watson, Senior Researcher at The Donkey Sanctuary