Many of the world’s most urgent Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by cost-effective and simple solutions that benefit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. The most striking example is the welfare of working equids (horses, donkeys and hybrids - mules and hinnies).
The vast majority of the world’s equid population remains working animals. An estimated 112 million working horses, donkeys and hybrids are essential to the livelihoods of some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and South/Central America. The traditional beast of burden, their socio-economic value is often taken for granted, with people taking advantage of their hardworking traits.
In rural areas, working equids are often used in farming and as transportation: they pull ploughs and carts, deliver goods to market, herd livestock and collect water from wells. In urban areas, they are mainly used in construction, transport of people and goods, and refuse collection. By enabling their owners to participate in work, they boost economic capacity, with further benefits from enabling education to promoting gender equality by allowing women to be economically active.
Simple interventions can empower owners to keep their working equids healthy and ensure their continued productive benefit. These interventions include improved access to good, affordable harnessing, hoof care and veterinary interventions, and, above all, the empowerment of their owners with better knowledge of equid management.