AN INTERNATIONAL equine charity has raised over £826,000 to support a major horse welfare project in Haiti.

Horses, donkeys and mules provide an lifeline to poor farming communities in the country, so ensuring these animals are fit and healthy can be the difference between a family staying afloat and not having enough money to survive.

Rural communities in Haiti are still suffering from the devastating aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, which killed and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

World Horse Welfare set an ambitious target back in June 2019 to raise £150,000 to support the charity’s ‘Helping Horse Owning Communities in Haiti’ appeal, and have well exceeded their original target, which includes nearly £400,000 in match funding from UK aid.

The funds raised will support expanded projects to provide training for communities in rural Haiti to improve care for their working horses and donkeys whilst strengthening their livelihoods and independence.

“This is a staggering outcome,” said World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers. “I extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated and all those who gave their support to promote the appeal including Horse and Hound, The Eastern Daily Press, The Scottish Farmer and the Daily Mail.

“This hugely encouraging result will not only allow us to fully fund our expanded project in Haiti but also to provide crucial support for several other of our projects in countries such as Nepal, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua.”

World Horse Welfare has been helping improve the welfare standards of horses in the UK and worldwide for over 90 years.

The charity’s project in Haiti aims to directly reach 2000 households in 10 rural communities surrounding Port-au-Prince. The charity plans to share knowledge with horse owning communities and provide training in saddlery, horse care and veterinary treatment.

Not only will the project support owners in improving the health of their working horses but it will also open up income generation opportunities for local people to train as veterinary agents, saddle pad makers and saddlers. Learning how to keep their horses strong and able to work is important to the people who depend on them and World Horse Welfare’s project will help communities learn new skills that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Since the appeal began, World Horse Welfare has been conducting baseline studies to identify which Haiti communities to work in and have been collecting information on working equids, their welfare and their intrinsic link to livelihoods.

As with all their international projects they are also completing due diligence assessments with their partner agency in Haiti, ‘Fondation Quatre Pattes’, to make sure the project has good governance and safeguarding measures built in.

Due to the current civil unrest in the country, the original proposals have had to be reviewed, however the charity has reassured that the UK Government Department For International Development is used to working in countries with challenging environments.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma commented: “Working horses are a lifeline for rural communities in the developing world. World Horse Welfare’s project in Haiti not only helps protect the animals, but also provides jobs, and boosts economies. I am delighted UK aid has matched the generous donations by the great British public – boosting the total raised to over £825,000.”