By Joe DeCapua
In many parts of the world, people now rely on the Internet, smart phones and Twitter in their daily affairs. In rural Ethiopia, the same can be said for donkeys, horses and mules. A new study looks at the animals’ contributions to people’s livelihoods.
The study describes equines as a “lifeline” for both rural and urban people of Ethiopia. The Brooke, an international animal welfare organization, focused on the woredas, or small districts, of Lemmo, Meskan and Shashego, located in Southern Nations, and the Nationalities People’s Region.
Doing the hard work
“There are almost eight million horses and donkeys in Ethiopia. They contribute to the economic development through the transportation system in the rural areas. Their contribution is huge, especially in areas where there’s no road and very difficult to transport things to market,” said Co-author Berhanu Admassu is a senior researcher for Tufts University and veterinary association president in Ethiopia.
Besides the expected uses of riding and pack services, some rent their animals to the poor. Berhanu says both parties benefit. “They are also being used around the urban and peri-urban areas as a taxi. We call it ‘gharry’ in the Ethiopian language, but they are used as a taxi,” he said.
In rural Ethiopia, it costs about $70 to buy a donkey, around $100 for a horse and $130 for a mule. Feeding an animal can range from $40 to $100 per year. The Brooke report says the net return for animals used for income generation, such as renting, pack use or taxis, was more than $580 annually. The study says donkeys, mules and horses “play a central role” in the livelihoods of people.
Full Story (VoaNews – Ethiopia’s Low-Tech, High-Value Transportation)