Where donkeys are no longer beasts of burden

The residents of Maraba in Kenya have seen the Nandi hills become a hive of activity as The Maraba Milk Vendors Group use donkeys to transport over 600 litres of milk a day. The donkey transport the milk over mountainous terrain of Ndurio to low-lying Karunga in Miwani,where they sell their milk to the City bicycle transporters from Kisumu City,50 kilometres away from the Nandi Hills escarpment.

Before Practical Action, in collaboration with the Kenya Society for the Protection of Animals (KSPA) began working with the villagers, their lack of knowledge about animal husbandry meant that the donkeys were too exhausted, and over burdened to transport the milk down the mountain in order to access the markets. The rugged terrains of Maraba have for many years” deterred residents to access market therefore the milk went to waste and the residents of Maraba were left with no option but to live in grinding poverty.Now, Practical Action and Kenya Society for the Protection of Animals have organised a health clinic where over 150 donkeys in Maraba have been dewormed and had their wounds treated-people in the community have also been trained how to handle the donkeys.Practical Action together with Kenya Dairy Board have also trained the milk vendors group on milk testing and hygienic handling which has helped reduce the losses through spoilage and accidents while transporting downhill. This has been possible as the donkey owners have also been trained to make donkey harnesses that allow the donkeys to carry milk cans comfortably without sustaining injuries from the traditional rope carrier.

A spot check visit to Maraba has shown dramatic changes on the donkeys” husbandry, as most of them are now healthy and able to work the whole day as opposed to working only in the delivery of milk.

Mr. Joseph Chepsiror, Chairman of the Maraba Milk Vendors Group says the donkey harnesses have reduced incidences of milk spillage and made them to be efficient to transport over 1,000 litres of milk daily for the Maraba dairy farmers to the market.

” We no longer runaway from the Kenya Dairy Board Officers as we have been issued with a milk-transporting license, which legitimises our milk business as required by the Kenya Dairy Board, “says Kosgei.

Mr. Kennedy Kosgei, a donkey owner says before donkeys were mischievous to their owners because of the wounds but since they were trained on proper donkey husbandry and health, now the donkeys are discipline and more healthy.

“For us, the sky is always the limit as we intend to buy our own vehicle to help us to transport high volumes of milk to reduce the rampant milk spoilage caused by delay in milk delivery by bicycle transporters to the end market in Kisumu City, “says Kosgei.

(SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS, 25th April 2007)

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