Brooke followed up these questionnaires with regular regional radio messages, broadcast in the local language and conveying advice on the recommended treatment of working horses, donkeys and mules. After a month of the messages being transmitted three times a day the surveys were repeated with promising results, over three quarters of owners said they would offer their animal water four or more times a day compared with less than a third before the shows were broadcast. Additionally 16% of owners had learnt that nostril slitting was not beneficial to the animal and so would stop carrying out the practise. The original questionnaire had found that 83% of owners treated their animal’s wounds using traditional methods, such as ash, engine oil and household disinfectants, however after just a month of transmissions 9% were now aware of the use of saline and antiseptic.
More recently, Brooke West Africa and their local partner UGAN have begun an innovative new project which links community radios to equine owners through a web-based platform. This collaborative approach is designed to produce a more effective information system to strengthen awareness around animal welfare issues by engaging and giving a voice to equine owners.
The system has also been beneficial to local police forces. In November 2016 a prefectural bylaw was passed in Senegal which requires cart drivers to use reflectors when travelling. The police and UGAN produced a radio program on road safety and community members then had the opportunity to use the voice mailbox for requests such as clarifications on the bylaw or for veterinary assistance. As a result road accidents involving carts had significantly decreased by the end of December 2016.
In many of the countries Brooke works within radio is the main source of information for the residents and we are taking full advantage to help broadcast key equine welfare messages to remote and rural communities to continue to improve the welfare of working horses, donkeys and mules all over the world. So celebrate radio this World Radio Day and think of all the ways it is changing the lives of equines everywhere!