Donkeys pulling carrt on Bamako rubbish dumps

SPANA has been working in Mali for decades and continues to work to reach some of the most rural communities to deliver veterinary care.  In one of the world’s poorest countries, people rely on animals – and animals rely on SPANA.

A woman transports water home with the help of her donkey and cart

Mali at a glance

• Population: 17.99 million
• Area: 1,240,192 km2
• Location: West Africa
• Capital city: Bamako
• Estimated number of working equines and camels: 2.4 million

SPANA Operations

Veterinary Care:
• SPANA has been working out of Bamako, Mali since 1996, making a huge difference to the lives of thousands of working animals each year
• One SPANA centre, based in the capital city, Bamako
• Two mobile veterinary clinics, visiting smaller towns, villages and rural communities
• Over 35,000 animals in Mali treated each year
• Over 700 children visited the SPANA education centre in 2017.


A child brings his donkey to a rural clinic run by SPANA in MaliAlongside our veterinary programme, SPANA Mali delivers a children’s education programme at our centre, designed to foster empathy for animals among young people. SPANA introduced a community development programme in Mali, working with animal owners to tackle the root causes of many of the injuries and other problems our vets see each day.


It’s another early start for Amadou Doumbia, SPANA’s country director in Mali since 1997. The gates to SPANA’s busy centre in Bamako have just opened and already there’s a class of schoolchildren eagerly awaiting their animal welfare lesson. While his colleague begins the lesson, Amadou is thrown straight into dealing with the dozens of sick and injured animals that arrive at the centre each day.

He then hits the road with the mobile veterinary clinic to visit the notorious rubbish dumps that circle the city. On the towering dumps, he’ll be treating the countless hardworking donkeys that pull overloaded rubbish carts from right around the city. It’s one of the most demanding and difficult jobs imaginable.

So what does Amadou enjoy about the role? ‘Working for SPANA has been really exciting. By providing free veterinary care, training and education, SPANA has made a huge effort to help the donkeys that work on the rubbish dumps across the city.’

‘With the hard work that the donkeys have to do, many suffer from injuries such as harness wounds. My dream was that one day the veterinary team would find no wounds on any of the donkeys that visited the mobile veterinary clinic. I am so pleased to say that it has happened! One day we discovered a group of working animals and no donkey had any wounds. I was so happy and proud of the whole SPANA team in Mali. I think it was a moment of great satisfaction for everyone.’

Despite the progress, working animals in one of Africa’s poorest countries continue to need SPANA’s help. The scale of the challenge is vast, but Amadou is not overwhelmed:

‘I’ve been here long enough to see the difference SPANA can make. Every day I see hundreds of animals that are free from pain and suffering because of SPANA. So I’m thankful for what we have achieved and optimistic about what more we can do in the future.’