Man and horse walking down road
Man and horse walking down road

Helping working animals in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a country with more than 11 million horses, donkeys and mules. There are struggles with both poverty and severe climatic events.

SPANA has one very busy veterinary clinic in Bishoftu and two mobile clinics, treating more than 20,000 animals in Ethiopia each year. We also have three classrooms and an education centre. Teachers reach more than 6,600 children annually with lessons on animal welfare.

ETHIOPIA AT A GLANCE

  • Population: 105 million
  • Area: 1.13 million sq km
  • Location: Horn of Africa
  • Capital City: Addis Ababa
  • Estimated number of working equines : 11.4 million

Spana Operations

Veterinary Care

SPANA started work in Ethiopia in 2003. Despite the introduction of coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions, our small, dedicated team here was able to provide more than 20,000 veterinary treatments to working animals in 2020.

  • One permanent centre in Bishoftu
  • Two clinical skills centres for training young vets at Addia Ababa University, College of Veterinary Medicine (found in Bishoftu), and at Gondar University.
  • Two mobile clinics visiting animals in nine surrounding towns and villages.
  • The main problems we encounter are animals with wounds, lameness, respiratory disease and a fungal infection called epizootic lymphangitis (EZL) that can be fatal. Working with the University of Liverpool, SPANA is leading a long-term study to better understand the EZL condition and, eventually, result in more effective treatments for Ethiopia’s horse population.
  • To help improve the quality of life for the animals we treat in Ethiopia, we provide harness pads for owners to put under their animals’ harnesses to prevent wounds.

 

Education

SPANA Ethiopia’s education project is one of our largest, featuring an extensive and growing network of after-school animal clubs, along with a programme of school visits to our centre, just outside Addis Ababa.

  • 2014 marked the official opening of a new animal handling facility at SPANA’s centre in Bishoftu
  • Nine new SPANA animal clubs began in autumn 2014, with club leaders and head teachers receiving training at our animal handling centre
  • 2018 saw two members of the Ethiopian team successfully complete training in the delivery of ICHE courses, enabling SPANA to provide training in both Amharic and Oromo.
  • Last year also saw us develop further resources to support our training programmes for animal club patrons, all of whom will now receive follow-up support.
  • Altogether SPANA Ethiopia reached 6,635 children with animal welfare education in 2020.

 

Training

SPANA operates a clinical skills centre (CSC) in Ethiopia. CSCs are centres created within a university to improve technical and practical skills of veterinary students.  They are equipped with different skills stations where students can practice veterinary skills such as injection technique, suturing, and bandaging in a safe environment. In 2020, we trained 7,429 animal owners – this includes both formal training and giving owners informal advice – as well as 302 professionals.

Man in white coat crouched next to donkey

Meet the Country Director: Teferi Abebe

How long have you been working for SPANA?

I have been working for SPANA in Ethiopia as a Country Director since January 2018.

What does your role involve?

I’m in charge of the overall planning for the operations of SPANA in Ethiopia. This includes recruiting staff for SPANA projects, leading the implementation of our projects and reviewing and evaluating the success of our projects.

How important are working animals in Ethiopia?

Working animals are major contributors to the lives of Ethiopian people. This is particularly true for the country’s rural communities. They are pathways out of poverty for the poor as they create opportunities for their livelihood. They are a means of income as they transport agricultural produce to the market. Income produced and gained through working animals’ services are used for communities to subsidise their household expenses, to be able to send their children to school.

Working animals (mostly donkeys and horses) also transport water and firewood, relieving children and women who would traditionally carry these heavy loads. These animals also transport local people from place to place.

What are the challenges facing working animals in Ethiopia?

The biggest challenge facing working animals in Ethiopia is the inhumane treatment by people due to lack of awareness. They are not well fed, sheltered or given medical treatments, but are subject to over-working, being overloaded and mistreated.

What is the best part of your job?

Coordinating my team of vets, community trainers and educators to serve the working animals who desperately need our services, and seeing the results: healthier animals. Seeing communities handling their animals humanely after SPANA’s community training is the other best part of my job. Also seeing the ripple effect of our Animal Welfare Club members’ peer influence in the entire school community is very satisfying.

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