A project to provide rural communities in Haiti with training to care for their working horses and donkeys has become the first of its kind to receive match-funding from the UK government.
The World Horse Welfare initiative will operate in 10 towns around the capital Port-Au-Prince in collaboration with Haitian animal charity Fondation Quatre Pattes.
As well as sharing knowledge with the horse-owning community, the project will also provide training in saddlery, veterinary treatment and horse care.
It aims to both support owners in improving the health of their working horses and open up opportunities for local people to earn income as veterinary agents, saddlers and saddle pad makers.
Working horses, donkeys and mules are still an essential mode of transport for rural communities in Haiti. They carry produce to be sold at markets, transport water for livestock and children also ride them to school.
Keeping these animals strong and in good health is vital to the people who depend on them and it is hoped the new skills introduced by World Horse Welfare’s project will be passed down from generation to generation.
Charity chief executive, Roly Owers, said: “‘If my donkey is sick then it is as though I’m sick too’ are the words of a working equid owner in Haiti that so eloquently reflect the true importance of working horses, donkeys and mules to the families they support, and how working animals can contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
“Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world that is still trying to recover from the devastating earthquake in 2010. Despite this there is great appetite within communities in rural Haiti to access new skills and knowledge – and empowering local people through training in horse care, saddlery and veterinary treatment not only improves the welfare of their working animals but boosts their independence too.
“We have a unique opportunity to double our impact thanks to the UK government matching every donation we receive until 17 September and would ask everyone to help us make the most of this extraordinary opportunity by helping some of the world’s most challenged people by supporting them in caring for their working animals.”
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World Horse Welfare is aiming to raise in excess of £150,000 which will be doubled by the government’s match-funding contribution.
International development minister Baroness Sugg said: “Working horses are a vital lifeline for poor farmers and those working hard to lift themselves out of poverty across Haiti.
“Losing a horse can be disastrous for these families. World Horse Welfare’s UK Aid Match appeal to help communities look after their horses will help to secure the income of entire communities. UK aid will double every pound the UK public donates to this appeal, meaning their generosity will go twice as far.”
Donations to the appeal can be made via the World Horse Welfare website.
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