The role of working donkeys and mules in disaster recovery and community resilience

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This project explores the (often overlooked) role of donkeys and mules in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis. It offers various examples of how donkeys have supported vulnerable people in times of crisis, including war and conflict; drought and climate change; natural disaster. Equids have a critical role to play in these contexts, to support the resilience and recovery of affected communities. However, the efforts of equids are rarely acknowledged in academic research, media reporting and international policy. This project foregrounds the role of working animals in humanitarian crises and, in doing so, expands the concept of ‘community resilience’. This has important for global development policy, resilience programming, and disaster risk reduction, including efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project will include a desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience, and a field-based investigation of the role of pack-mules in the recovery programme after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Methodology
  • A desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience. This is informed by document analysis (policy papers, historical texts, and academic publications) as well as semi-structured interviews with key informants, primarily field staff working in frontline services in crisis zones (conducted between June-July 2020).
  • A field-based assessment of the role of pack mules in disaster recovery after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; this component will include both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (structured questionnaires) tools to gain a complete picture from equid owners, people in affected communities and NGOs involved in the disaster response.