Animal drawn carts

How people are transporting heavy items using traditional technology

Many people in the developing world have to walk miles to fetch the water they need for drinking and farming. Moving heavy goods such as farmer’s produce is also a big job, especially if the load is a large one.

A donkey-pulled water cart can bring vital supplies of water to communities, saving precious time and allowing poor farmers to tend their crops. A simplified version of the cart allows farmers to transport all their produce to market in one trip, saving packing costs and journey times.

Animal-drawn carts have helped mobilise poor people living in eastern Sudan. Practical Action Sudan's transport programme in Kassala and Gedarif States has included the designing of a cheaper cart that is more affordable to poor people.

Made locally and with proven durability, the carts can help generate income of about 2,000 Sudanese Dinars (US$ 7.50) daily for the owner or operator. They also provide cheap transport for users and save time in tasks such as hauling water.

Abdall Omer Saeedo from Kebkabyia, Sudan

Abdall Omer Saeedo, a farmer in the western Sudan province of Kebkabyia, had a major problem.

How could he take a sufficient quantity of vegetables and green fodder to the market 10km away to make enough money to cover production and packing costs, and also provide for the needs of his wife, three daughters, one son, his elderly mother and other dependent relatives?

He needed his donkey to carry at least ten sacks and five bags of produce to each of the twice-weekly markets. But Saeedo risked losing money if he could not sell enough of his agricultural produce at each market and unsold products had to be thrown away.

Facing a loss of up to 3,250 Sudanese Dinars (US $12) each time this happened, he became worried. He considered either moving to another area or selling his products inside his farm to wholesalers, which often meant receiving very low prices that might not cover production costs.

Saeedo approached Practical Action Sudan. Through the organisation's work on getting local metal workers to produce intermediate means of transport, a special design of donkey cart was produced for him.

The cart now enables him to transport all his produce to market in one trip, saving packing costs and journey times. Any unsold produce is simply returned in good condition to Saeedo's farm to be taken on the next market day or to another market.

A much happier man, Saeedo was able to earn 15,000 Sudanese Dinars (US $56) each market day up to the end of the season, which lasts not less than three months after the rainy season. He can now pay for his children's school fees and other family needs.

You can download  technical briefs and manuals on animal drawn carts at Practical Answers, the technical information service of Practical Action, or you can submit an enquiry to the Practical Action staff via the online form

Manufacturing The Donkey Cart and Ambulance

This document outlines some of the issues in making a donkey cart and a doneky cart ambulance.

The Donkey Cart

Dimensions for The Donkey Cart are provided in this engineering drawing.

The Donkey Cart: Frame and Axle

Dimensions for the frame and the axle of The Donkey Cart Ambulance are provided in this engineering drawing.

The Donkey Cart Ambulance

This engineering drawing shows one approach to providing emergency service in areas that do not have access to motorised transport.

Wheel Manufacturing Technology for Rural Workshops

A small-scale approach to making wheels using a jig.

Wheel Jig

This is a simple jig for making basic wheels.

Books from Practical Action Publishing

Guidelines for Design, Production and Testing of Animal-Drawn Carts

Design and Manufacture of Animal Drawn Carts


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