“What can we do to actually reach all these animals?” Evaluating approaches to improving working equid welfare

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NGOs utilise a range of programming to bring about desired changes. This study examines the advantages and limitations of the range of approaches used by one particular NGO sector: working equid welfare organisations, from the perspective of NGO staff. NGO staff hold a wealth of knowledge regarding the design and implementation of welfare improvement initiatives; however this knowledge is rarely systematically documented. Through 32 semi-structured interviews the experiences of staff across multiple organisations were explored. The nine most commonly utilised approaches within equid focussed NGO programming were discussed with participants. Many themes resulting from the interviews centred around the strengths and disadvantages of these individual approaches, implemented both historically and presently by different NGOs. The influences of the context in which initiatives took place and barriers to welfare improvement that existed across approaches were also examined. Striking a balance came through as a strong theme at many levels. Balancing top-down versus bottom-up approaches was a frequently voiced concern, as was balancing the utility of certain approaches against associated factors warranting caution. Combinations of approaches that were felt to be complementary provided a balance that drew on the strengths and mitigated for the weaknesses of different approaches. The need to tailor approaches to individual contexts was also raised and is especially relevant to INGOs working across multiple countries, cultures and political structures. The study provides an informed insight into potential factors to consider when designing future welfare initiatives. The collaborative pooling of experience across different NGOs could help make welfare initiatives more effective and provide a framework for NGOs in other fields to learn from each other’s collective knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0273972
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2022


  • UKRI
  • ESRC
  • ES/P000673/1


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