Improve The Welfare Of Donkeys And Strengthen Women Donkey Owners’ Livelihoods In Kenya



Women are disadvantaged in Kenya, and especially those in rural counties, which often fall well below the national average in the Gender Development Index (which measures the gender difference in health, knowledge and living standards). 

Literacy rates among women are low, control over the family’s assets is usually determined by men, including land and livestock, and women bear the main responsibility for domestic work and child-rearing, in addition to small-scale income generating activities.

Female headed households constitute 36% of total households and yet still lack access to financial services and credit. Estimates show that only 4% of female headed households in Kenya obtain formal credit.

Access to reproductive health services is limited and the number of children born per household in Machakos County, for example, averages at 4.2. This is above the country’s average and places a heavy burden on women to earn income to provide for their families. 

Women are also disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, with 6.8% of women testing positive compared to only 2.9% of men.

Control Over The Family’s Assets Is Usually Determined By Men.

Women Are Empowered By The Ownership Of A Donkey

Women in the region are highly dependent on the use of their donkeys, principally for household tasks, such as the collection of water and fire-wood, which they transport over distances as much as 10 miles to and from their homes.

A large proportion of women also rely on their animals for subsistence farming and income generation, such as collecting water for sale to others, the sale of donkey manure, transportation of animal feed, seeds, fertilizers and milk.  

In rural areas 80% of the users and care-givers of donkeys are women, with subsistence farming being the primary, and often the only, source of livelihood for about 70% of rural women.  

In 2014 Brooke carried out a research project in four countries, including one in Kenya, which investigated the many ways that donkeys make a difference to the lives of women and their families. When asked to rank their livestock, including working equids, 77% of the groups interviewed (17 out of 22 groups) across all four countries put their horses, mules and donkeys in the first position. In Kenya, all groups ranked working equids first.

Children Receive Education When Women Own Donkeys

As women we no longer have to ask our husbands for money because we have our own income. I would encourage other women to get donkeys.
— Kisima Tuyoto (age 47)
Living without a donkey is like living with a broken leg. You cannot accomplish much.
— Ruth Mueni, 48, Nachu, Kenya
Having a donkey gives me peace of mind as I know I can comfortably handle all household chores with its support.
— Joyce Ndegwa, 24, Kamuchege, Mwea, Kenya
I will always be grateful to the donkey as it educated my son.
— Dorcas Wanjiku, 42, Ndiguini, Limuru, Kenya
Previously I could not afford to even feed my family. Now not only can I feed them but I can afford a balanced diet, thanks to the donkey.
— Teresia Wangari, 43, Kamuchege, Mwea, Kenya

Thanks to programs like this, not only will this generation of animals and their owners have a better life, but so will future generations.