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Case Study: One Health in Pakistan’s brick kilns

This case study shows how Brooke is applying a One Health approach in Pakistan’s brick kilns

The problem

Pakistan has 20,000 brick kilns that produce 82.5 billion bricks every year. 1.3. million people work in the industry in the country, alongside 200,000 animals who transport the bricks. Working conditions are extreme. Air pollution, created by the consumption of 13 million tonnes of coal, causes premature deaths and morbidities amongst workers – who are often women and children. Their animals often face hoof problems, wounds, problems with walking, spinal pain and eye issues.

Poor animal welfare or the death of a horse or donkey can cause problems for people working in brick kilns. Workers often buy animals using a loan, so death or sickness of an animal can lead to bonded labour, where workers are forced to work to pay off their debts. In turn, this leads to people being unable to afford healthcare or food. Animals continue to suffer if workers do not have enough income to afford animal health care services.

The solution

Brooke has taken a One Health approach itself to achieve better welfare for the brick kilns’ horses and donkeys. They have worked to get emergency medicine kits available in the kilns for both workers and their animals, and worked with brick kiln owners to plant trees around the kilns to improve the environment. Labour unions discuss equine living conditions (shade, shelter and water) as a regular agenda point at meetings of the main union bodies. Finally, Brooke persuaded Pakistan’s education department to include animal compassion on the curriculum of the informal schools set up around the brick kilns for the workers’ children.

However, no organisation can achieve optimum health for workers and animals on their own. Brooke set up a cross-sectoral multi-stakeholder civil society consortium across South Asia to enhance One Health collaboration and address the issues faced in the brick kilns. This group aims to achieve effective policy and legislation to improve occupational safety, minimum wages, and vet care services. It also seeks for the introduction of livelihood initiatives to ensure that the labour force has a secure income that supports them to take care of their own health and that of their animals.

The benefit of strengthening animal health systems

Better access to veterinary professionals, services, and medicines, will help to reduce sickness and death in the brick kiln’s equine workforce, leading to a secure income and better health for the brick kiln’s workers.

For more on Brooke’s work in South Asia’s brick kilns, contact external.affairs@thebrooke.org


Enhance collaboration for One Health

Read our Call to Action:

Action for Animal Health calls on governments and international agencies to prioritise strong animal health systems through five pillars for action.