An equine welfare charity has launched an emergency response to help horses, donkeys and mules in Ethiopia.

In recent months, the country has faced its worst drought in 50 years.

Working equines are being used to help provide people with vital supplies.

Along with other organisations, workers from the Brooke have travelled to the country to help local people and their livestock.

“Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in a generation and as crops fail and livestock die, the Brooke is responding,” said Dil Peeling, director of animal welfare and sustainability at the Brooke.

“Our teams are on the ground supporting the survival of people’s essential livestock.”

Ethiopia has nine million working horses, donkeys and mules — the second largest population in the world.

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The work and income from one of these animals can support a family of six, contributing to food security, and providing a lifeline for 85% of Ethiopians living in rural areas.

“These animals play a critical role now, in transporting emergency supplies to people and other livestock, and will be needed afterwards as people rebuild their lives,” added Ms Peeling.

“Brooke Ethiopia are expecting to feed 600 working equines each day for a month, and will deliver water for up to 1,800 each day.”

The teams in Halaba and Sankura are providing food for the equines, giving treatments to tackle disease, and advice to owners.

They are also helping to repair much-needed water reserve ponds that had been damaged by a build-up of silt.

In May 2014 the Brooke released Invisible Helpers, a report that showed women’s views on the contributions of working horses, donkeys and mules to their lives and Ethiopia was one of the countries featured in the report.