KENDAT with the support of The Brooke Hospital for Animals advances capacity for humane utilization of draft animals with particular attention to the highly neglected donkey. The Heshimu Punda (Respect the Donkey) Programme advances practical community knowledge transfer efforts in donkey health & husbandry management, preventive care and policy influencing, among other livelihood interventions. KENDAT works through catalytic development interventions calling communities into action, to meet their own challenges, as they make informed demands on their development supporters, including the Government.

Programme background

KENDAT- Heshimu Punda Programme was started in the year 2001 targeting two divisions; Mwea (Kirinyaga District) and Lari Division (Kiambu District). The programme covered approximately 4,000 donkeys; each region with entire population of 2,000 donkeys. HP started by helping communities to effectively and efficiently utilize “donkey power” to improve livelihoods. Through the generous support of  The Brooke Hospital for Animals, HP expanded and growing over the years; to not only address donkey welfare issues but also conducting research (welfare assessment, risk assessments, helminths research in a bid to attain information and evidence to support its interventions.


Kenya has approximately 1,832,519 donkeys (from the 2009 Census) with over half of this population being used for work in transport and tillage operations. It is also approximated that about a third of the donkeys are in poor welfare status arising from human abuse and misuse which emanate from strong myths, in-humane traditional practices, and malnutrition. To a large extent, improving the welfare of working donkeys calls for a behaviour and attitude change among animal owners and users. Heshimu Punda (HP) programme, being implemented by Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT) in partnership with Brooke East Africa focuses on improving the welfare of working donkeys in Kenya through the prevention and reduction of suffering now and in the future.

Currently Heshimu Punda (HP) has interventions in Mt Kenya West (with the regional office being based at the County Veterinary offices in Kikuyu) and Mt Kenya East (with the regional office being based at the Embu County Veterinary Offices). In these areas donkeys experience considerable problems including poor husbandry, mismanagement, human abuse and misuses, which are related to negative myths, deeply inculcated in traditional and cultural practices. In addition, many people have not yet appreciated the important work done by donkeys and have a low opinion on donkeys.

The programme covers a total of 50,364 donkey within seven counties

Project areas

The project that has run for over the last 10 years works with donkeys in the Counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru where ninety percent of the donkeys are involved in transport and tillage. HP has been implementing its projects in high potential areas where donkeys are used heavily for transport and other farming activities, and there is high reliance on them by the owners and users for their livelihoods. Most are found in peri-urban areas, where they are mostly used for business by largely the youth and yet highly misused and mistreated at the same time.

HP Operation areas and donkey coverage 

Kiambu County 11,301
Nairobi County 7,594
Nyandarua County 7,877
Kirinyaga County 4,019
Embu County 4,300
Tharaka Nithi County 8,000
Meru County 7,273
KENDAT - HP program regions - 2016

HP Interventions

HP works through 3 main interventions and in line with The Brooke’s objectives:

  1. Service Provision
  2. Equine owners and equine owning communities
  3. Key actors/Policy implementers

Project sustainability focus

Our focus is on building sustainability through:

  • An effective LSPs system that is well networked with the government vet department and other key actors.
  • Making donkey owners knowledgeable, and motivated to seek donkey health services from trained LSPs
  • Building sustainable community structures to spearhead donkey welfare and livelihoods.
  • Partnering with the County governments to develop policy and legislation addressing donkey welfare.
  • Partnering with the County governments to ensure they mainstream donkey welfare in their development agenda.
  • Working towards Law enforcement by both key actors and donkey owners organization.

Some achievements 

  • Formation of groups with an increasing membership of over 2,700 members; with some being registered as CBO’s. Groups formed have gone ahead to formulate by-laws that guide the use of the donkey. Meru donkey owners also formed an umbrella body that launched a SACCO supported by the County government.
  • Over 250 Local Animal Health Provider’s (LAHP) have been trained and supported with a basic kit to provide veterinary services. This translates to less suffering for needy donkeys. Veterinary service provision to donkeys in the project areas has improved in terms of availability, access and quality.
  • HP has trained more than 50 farriers across the project regions; who provide basic hoof care under the supervision of qualified providers
  • Improved knowledge of school children on donkey welfare and generation of high quality messages generated from the drawings, art work, poems, songs and drama.  These are used as promotional and awareness materials
  • Over 400 donkey welfare ambassadors have graduated through the schools programme
  • Policy implementers are more involved in donkey welfare – police creating awareness on the existing national laws (Cap 360, Traffic Act,) and prosecuting those abusing donkeys.
  • County governments are aware of donkey welfare and discussing how to formulate policies that take care of donkey welfare
  • Myths are fading away as donkey owners absorb knowledge and information on how to handle their donkeys better such as through seeking treatment for donkeys, use of donkey manure for farming.
  • Improved donkey welfare practices due to community trainings. Some improved practices include:-  wider use of reflectors on carts and jackets by donkey riders resulting in less road accidents involving donkeys, construction of housing for donkeys, improved feeding habits, better and friendly handling of donkeys.

The HP team

HP has been able to make considerable improvements in many of the areas where population of donkeys has increased considerably, compared to the beginning of the program and has continued to expand while heavily relying on its history and the fact that over time, the team has transversed the country and is well aware of the challenges in many areas of Kenya.

Moreover, the HP team is diverse with individuals coming from and knowledgeable about many regions in the counties.