In Wajir, Kenya, donkeys will no longer be allowed to use the town’s roadways if they don’t wear diapers, because authorities want to keep the animals from defacing the town’s roads with their droppings.
Wajir, which is about 600 km north of Nairobi, is so proud of its newly laid 27 km asphalt road, that it would do anything to keep them new and shiny…including banning animals without diapers.
Owners of donkeys complain that their animals have used the roads from time immemorial and complain that strapping an 80 kg animal, such as a donkey, with a diaper is anything but easy. Others worry that the donkeys may only be the start: eventually, will the diaper law include other animals, such as cattle, dogs, and maybe even chickens?
Either way, the law remains in place and online forums have been created to share helpful ways of tackling the issue.
The law requiring donkeys to use nappies is not altogether a novel one in Kenya: in 2007, officials of the town of Kimuru ordered donkey owners to provide their animals with diapers to keep the streets free from animal waste.
Across Africa, there are also a number of laws seeking to restrict the movement of animals on the streets and roads of urban areas. In Nigeria, for example, it is not uncommon to find the task force arresting and impounding wandering animals with a fine to their owners.
The arrests can be quite a spectacle to watch, with the task force chasing the animals who first play a little game of catch-me-if-you-can before they comply. Last December, a court in Minna, 150 km northwest of Abuja, fined the owners of arrested animals, especially goats and sheep, a total of N79,000 or about $225.
Authorities claim animals are a public nuisance and pose a considerable risk for accidents and other road mishaps to the driving public. Indeed, road traffic officials have identified wandering animals crossing the highway as a leading cause of road accidents.
Motorists who have head-on collisions with large animals, such as cows or donkeys, often lose their lives — along with the animals — as they swerve sharply to avoid killing smaller animals, such as goats or sheep.
Despite laws against wandering animals and the realities of modernity, raising farm animals or livestock in urban areas remains popular all over Africa. In fact, the practice is not about to change any time soon since most animals are mostly self-sufficient, roaming freely and foraging for food themselves.
Animals often provide a quick source of cash when sold in difficult times or are more commonly slaughtered by their owners to celebrate holidays and festivities.