A man with his oxen on a farm

Ethiopia is a country with over 2.5 million horses. There are struggles with both poverty and severe climatic events.

SPANA has one very busy veterinary clinic in Debre Zeit and two mobile clinics, treating over 12,000 animals in Ethiopia each year. We also have three classrooms and an education centre. Teachers give lessons on animal welfare to around 4,000 children a year.

The main problems we treat are wounds, lameness, respiratory disease and a terrible fungal infection called EZL.

A man and his pack mule, Ethiopia

Ethiopia at a glance

  • Population: 102 million
  • Area: 1.13 million sq km
  • Location: Horn of Africa
  • Capital City: Addis Ababa
  • Estimated number of working equines and camels: 11 million

Veterinary Care

  • SPANA started work in Ethiopia in 2002. Our small and dedicated team there were able to provide nearly 13,000 treatments to working animals last year.
  • One permanent centre in Debre Zeit.
  • One Clinical Skills Centre at Debre Zeit University for training young veterinarians
  • Two mobile clinics visiting animals in surrounding towns.
  • The main problems we encounter are animals with wounds, lameness, respiratory disease and a fungal infection called EZL that can be fatal.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.


Our education work currently consists of a cart horse owner education programme, and a group of after-school animal clubs for children where they can learn about animal needs in a fun environment.

  • 2014 marked the official opening of a new animal handling facility at SPANA’s centre in Addis Ababa
  • 9 new SPANA animal clubs began in autumn 2014, with club leaders and head teachers receiving training at our animal handling centre
  • Altogether SPANA now has 41 clubs across Ethiopia, reaching 2,330 children

Meet the Country Director

Dr. Nigatu joined SPANA Ethiopia in 2004 and is one of the charity’s most enthusiastic team members. Day-to-day, Nigatu is overseeing the running of the clinics, the cart horse owner education programme and the schoolchildren education programme.

As an expert in his field, Nigatu also lectures on equine medicine and welfare for veterinary students in the country’s leading veterinary school. Each month Nigatu meets with other animal charities to organise joint activities.

Dr Nigatu in Ethiopia

Nigatu said: “Animal welfare is the key driving force in my life and I get a lot of job satisfaction from being able to alleviate animals’ pain and suffering as part of the SPANA Ethiopia team. When we treat animals I also get to see the happiness and relief in the owners’ faces, whose lives entirely depend on the wellbeing of their animals. These experiences give you real encouragement to work even harder.

“All of the SPANA Ethiopia team are incredibly dedicated and if there are any animals seeking treatment, regardless of the time of day or situation, the team will try to help them.”