Donkey welfare lobby groups in Kenya have expressed their opposition to any plans hatched with a view of reopening donkey abattoirs in the country. In a statement, the lobby groups asserted:
“We, donkey-dependent communities and stakeholders are greatly alarmed by the statement issued in public on 17th June 2023 by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Hon. Mithika Linturi during a meeting in Baringo, hinting at the reopening of mass donkey slaughter in Kenya under the guise of addressing unemployment and are really concerned.
We are united to ask/ demand the Minister not to open the slaughter houses for the simple reasons that; it is bad for the donkey and Kenya economy and does not in any way provide long term job creation but, it has proved to destroy youths, women and children livelihoods.
we indeed acknowledge that donkeys are a livestock and have played a critical role in community livelihoods as a working animal supporting house hold chores and often worked to ern users an income. Use of donkeys to earn an income is the best example there is for the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda under the Ruto administration
In his statement, Hon. Linturi sought for evidence that will inform his actions to reopen the slaughter houses. We therefor wish to bring to your attention to the facts surrounding donkey slaughter and dispel the misconception that mass slaughter will address unemployment.
We would like to highlight the following:
- Donkeys are a working livestock whose contributions to food security and nutrition has been officially recognized by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on Monday 17 October 2016 in Rome.
- Domesticated in Africa, making the donkey a true African livestock and a heritage of the continent. They are kept for work supporting poor communities to survive, be resilient and earn a living.
- According to 2019 research conducted by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) on the “Status of Donkey Slaughter in Kenya and Its Implication on Community Livelihoods,” the study revealed that each working donkey in Kenya generates an average of KES. 11,390.00 per month and support up to seven family members.
- According to the same report, over a span of three years (2016–2018), the four donkey abattoirs located in Nakuru, Baringo, Turkana, and Machakos counties in Kenya decimated 301,977 of the country’s donkey population, accounting for 15.4 percent. The annual mean rate of donkeys slaughtered (5.1%) was five times higher than the annual donkey population growth rate (1.04%). If the trade had continued, Kenya would have completely depleted its donkey species by this year. The donkey population in Kenya has plummeted from 1.9 million in the 2009 census to 1.1 million in the 2019 census.
- The research further revealed that the four slaughter houses employed 657 workers. With a daily wage (KES 423) and the opportunity cost of giving up donkeys was made.
- A comparative analysis between the value of donkey meat/hide exported and the income foregone from working donkeys between 2016 and 2018 revealed that over 300,000 donkeys were slaughtered, generating a gross revenue of Ksh. 1.82 billion from donkey meat and skins. However, if only 25% of the slaughtered donkeys were working donkeys, the foregone income amounted to Ksh. 28.3 billion.
- Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Cot d’Ivore, Ghana, Nigeria banned donkey slaughter on various dates and Kenya banned slaughter in 2020. All these countries have had negative experiences with the slaughtering of donkey’s exploitation and non-compliance of law and government directives, by investors, loss of donkey dependent community livelihoods and resilience, animal welfare concerns.
- In December of last year, a Pan African Donkey Conference was hosted by AU-IBAR in Dar-esSalam, Tanzania, resolved to urge all governments, based on the available evidence of the alarming decline in donkey numbers on the continent, to impose a ban on donkey slaughter and skin trade for at least the next 15 years.
- Donkey-owning communities have previously petitioned the government on multiple occasions, calling for a ban on the trade due to the resulting theft of donkeys.
Given this wealth of evidence, we urge the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Hon. Mithika Linturi, to:
• Reject any plans to reopen donkey slaughterhouses as a means of employment creation, as it will ultimately impoverish youth and communities dependent on donkeys.
• Demonstrate unity with other African countries that are urging the African Union to ban the donkey skin trade and slaughter for at least the next 15 years, allowing for research and development of donkey production and productivity.
• Call for a stakeholder meeting to better understand the plight of donkey welfare in Kenya and forge a sustainable way forward.
• We urge the minister NOT to be derailed by politics and interests of the investors but to show leadership and listen to the people, review evidence and make an independent decision that will not take Kenya back to the commercialization of slaughter of donkeys.
The statement was duly Signed and endorsed by the alliance of Donkey Welfare Organizations in Kenya (ADWOK) and the Association of Donkey Owners in Kenya (ADOK)