On World Water Day (22 March 2016), global horse and donkey charity the Brooke are calling for better recognition of the working equines that help provide water for people living in the developing world.

Many people may not realise that those living in rural areas of developing countries often have to travel vast distances to obtain fresh water, and for many this journey is made easier by owning a horse or donkey. The water is used by families for drinking, to cook, maintain basic hygiene standards, water crops and provide drinking water for other farm animals.

During their ‘Voices From Women’ research project, The Brooke spoke to a group of women in Pakistan. They said that women who own a donkey cart can bring supplies such as water, wood and fodder home in an hour and a half, while it takes four hours for women who do not have a donkey. The time saved working alongside a donkey can then be used to spend with their families or earning more money for the family.

All over the world, horses, donkeys and mules are critical assets for people’s livelihoods.

However, despite their importance these equines remain an ‘invisible’ workforce to many policy makers worldwide. Because horses and donkeys are not eaten and do not provide fibres such as wool, they are not properly recognised as ‘livestock’, and therefore miss out on vaccination and other health and welfare programmes.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive of the Brooke said: “It’s wrong that such vital working animals continue to be virtually unseen in international development policies and programmes. Every day, Brooke is working to fill the gap that this blind spot in development thinking has caused.”

To read the Voices From Women report ‘Invisible Helpers’ or to support the Brooke’s work to help millions of working horses, donkeys and mules around the world, go to www.thebrooke.org