[UPDATED September 30*] Charities continue to offer aid to horse tour operators in Egypt as food prices rise again according to a report issued this week.
Family tour operators, already suffering a loss of income following the unrest which led to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in January, do not have the cash resources to deal with increasing food and grain prices according to local charities.
The Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics found prices for grains and bread were up 10.6 per cent on June, vegetables up 10.9 per cent, meat up 3.07 per cent and a 9.4 per cent increase in the cost of sweet foods.
Egypt’s minister for finance Hazem el-Beblawi confirmed earlier this week that tourism earnings for this financial year are down $1.6 billion on 2009/2010.
This means fewer people taking horse and donkey tours at the Giza pyramids and other areas. And with no other work available, many horse owners are now dependent on animal charities to provide feed and medical care for their animals.
While the situation has improved since February according to charity workers, organised weekly feeds still take place near stables in tourist regions around Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.
Director of the Egyptian Society of Mercy for Animals (ESMA) Mona Khalil said that a graveyard of more than 50 horses had been found in February near the Giza pyramid.
“This situation is not just hell for humans. It is hell on earth for our animals too. The cost of feed went up horrifically, if you even can find it in the first place,” she said at the time.
By the end of May, the privately-funded charity estimated they were spending up to $2,100 (€1,479) a week to provide grain for horses.
Irish woman Susan Richards-Benson has worked in Egypt for five years and volunteers with ESMA in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. She said in the first two weeks of unrest, grain disappeared from the markets.
“At the start, the (animal) charities were overwhelmed. They were trying to feed horses, donkeys and camels but had to assess the animals and see who was critical, then give them food,” Ms Richards-Benson said.
“If there were horses which looked as if they could survive without eating for another day, then they were turned away.”
In Aswan and Luxor, local government authorities have been working with international charity The Brooke to provide aid to tour operators with animals in these areas. This included providing emergency feed to horse-owners in Cairo, Aswan, Edfu and Luxor between February and April 21st, along with free veterinary care. Since then mobile veterinary teams have continued to work in Cairo and at Nazlet El Saman near the Sphinx offering free treatment and advice.
On September 15th, in response to the on-going problems, The Brook increased the visits of these teams to three times a week covering 14 locations around the pyramids.
Osama Gamal, a horse owner in the Giza pyramids region told the charity in February: “Some days I can only offer my horse half the amount of food as I normally would. My family and I are forced to spend our savings to feed ourselves and the animals. Soon we will have nothing to spend and I dread to imagine how things can get worse.”
Charities, including ESMA, recently appealed for continued donations.
Chairperson of the Egyptian Society for Animal Friends, Ahmed El Sherbiny sent an open appeal this week saying “Our resources are still very limited and we can not provide sufficient food and treatment for an extended period, as the number of animals in need of help is very extensive.”
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Supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund, Photojournalist Lar Boland documented the solar technology training of 4 Grandmothers (pictured with mentor) at Rajasthan's Barefoot College and their return to Togo.
Puppetry is used for training at the Barefoot College as many of the women being trained are illiterate. Photo: Lar Boland.
An Indian instructor who herself trained at the Barefoot College demonstrates the working of electronic panels to the Togolese solar grandmothers. Photo: Lar Boland.
A trainee working on the installation of a mobile solar lamp. Photo: Lar Boland.
Togoalise is one of the four Solar Grandmothers from the remote village of Agome Sevah in Togo. Photo: Lar Boland.
Akouavi is one of the four Solar Grandmothers from the remote village of Agome Sevah in Togo. Photo: Lar Boland.
Hotitode is one of the four Solar Grandmothers from the remote village of Agome Sevah in Togo. Photo: Lar Boland.
Mialo Tassi is one of the four Solar Grandmothers from the remote village of Agome Sevah in Togo. Photo: Lar Boland.
On their return to Agome Sevah, the Solar Grandmothers are greeted by the Chief of the village. Photo: Lar Boland.
Having returned to Agome Sevah after a six month training period at the Barefoot College, the Solar Grandmothers set about training others at their workshop. Photo: Lar Boland.
A group of Solar Grandmothers and helpers on their way to erecting solar panels at a small village home in Agame Sevah, Togo. Photo: Lar Boland.
Mialo Tassi, a Solar Grandmother, on her way to erecting solar panels at a small village home in Agome Sevah. Photo: Lar Boland.
Akouavi, a Solar Grandmother from Agome Sevah erecting solar panels at a small village home. Photo: Lar Boland.
Solar Grandmothers outside a newly built clinic which they are about to solar electrify. Photo: Lar Boland.
Solar Grandmothers install solar panels on the roof of the newly built clinic in Agome Sevah. Photo: Lar Boland.
A family from the rural village of Agome Sevah have their daily wash in the Mono river which seperates Togo from Benin. Photo: Lar Boland.
The much used Mono river which divides Togo and Benin. Photo: Lar Boland.
The river Mono between Togo and Benin is regularily crossed by traders. Photo: Lar Boland.
Children fishing in the Mono River. Photo: Lar Boland.
Petrol bought at a reduced price in Benin, and smuggled across the Mono river, is later sold on the streets of Togo, such as the capital Lome. Photo: Lar Boland.
Everyday life in Agome Sevah. Photo: Lar Boland.
A Togo war veteran with his grandaughter. Photo: Lar Boland.
A man builds a small dwelling in Agome Sevah. Photo: Lar Boland.
Children can now study in the evening with the help of solar power. In Togo, near the equator, it gets dark at around 5:30. Photo: Lar Boland.