Emergency disaster response traditionally prioritises the immediate needs of affected people. However, animals caught in disasters can also suffer from injury, neglect, starvation, disease and ultimately death. This hugely affects a community’s ability to recover in a disaster’s aftermath –especially in areas where people rely on their animals for food, income generation and emotional support.
Our five-year partnership with the Mongolian Red Cross (MRCS) is protecting people and their animals in impoverished herding communities affected by extreme weather – known as a dzud.
This initiative developed from our Memorandum of Understanding with the MRCS. With them we are showing the critical benefits of integrating animal welfare into livelihood protection, disaster risk reduction planning and responses.
Mongolia’s agriculture sector comprises 15% of its GDP; 80% of this relates to livestock herding. Livestock are a vital source of food and raw materials for Mongolia’s people. However, the traditional nomadic herding lifestyle is under threat. Increasingly, Mongolia is affected by dzuds – severe winters where temperatures can plummet to – 50◦C – preceded by summer droughts. An estimated 160,000 nomadic herder families, in 20 out of 21 Mongolian provinces, and around 66.2 million sheep goats, cattle, horses, camels and reindeer – suffer in these devastating conditions. The droughts lead to summer over-grazing and mean herders cannot to grow enough hay and fodder for their livestock to help them survive the extreme and harsh winters. Dzuds are also characterised by such high winds and freezing temperatures that the herders’ usual animal shelters offer little or no protection. The animals, they depend on for their food, transport and livelihoods are vulnerable to dying of starvation, disease, and freezing to death.
Consequently, many herders feel forced to give up their traditional lifestyle. They head for Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar and its semi-urban areas to find a better way of the life. But research regarding herder migration during the dzud of 2009-2010, which killed more than 8.5 million animals, shows these moves are not generally successful. The herders have been plunged into even greater poverty; exchanging their traditional grassland homes for slums
Tuv; Uvs; Arkhangai; Zavkan; Bayan-Ulgii; Khövsgöl; Bulgan; Selenge provinces
With the delivery of MRCS humanitarian aid we provided emergency shelter materials – including tarpaulins. This saved the lives of around 160,000 animals belonging to 1,950 of Mongolia’s most vulnerable households. We delivered these materials at the end of February /early March 2016 coinciding with the main calving season for livestock when protection from wind and weather is most critical.
Working independently of MRCS, we also provided 750 of the worst affected households in Dundgovi Province with emergency nutrition packs. These helped livestock and their young regain strength, lowered the mortality rate significantly and improved the overall welfare of the animals in the herd. The pack included milk supplements for new-born animals and mineral blocks to provide nutrients for adult sheep and goats. The lives of nearly 95,000 animals were saved as a result. The success of the packs encouraged MRCS and other organisations to use them in other interventions.
Khovsgol Khovd; Uvs; Zavkhan; Khovsgol; Selenge
Working with MRCS we delivered emergency nutrition relief packs for livestock – sheep, goats, cattle and horses – to 1,740 households in six of the hardest-hit provinces. Each pack included: 10kg milk powder; 1 litre of fish oil; 3kg vitamin supplement, 8 kg of mineral blocks. The pack was delivered with MRCS, USAID and IFRC humanitarian relief distribution during the week 6 March 2017. A total of 144,420 animals benefitted directly from this aid.
In total, the life-saving support given in the back-to-back dzuds of 2016-2017 saved the lives of more than 400,000 animals and helped 4,440 households protect their livelihoods.
The world-moving partnership between World Animal Protection, the IFRC and National Red Cross Societies is expected to benefit millions of the world’s poorest people and their animals. With more than 97 million volunteers and staff globally, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has more reach and impact than any humanitarian organisation. Together we are showing that disaster response operations and integrated disaster risk reduction programmes have a greater impact on the poorest and most vulnerable people at risk from natural hazards. Our joint work is critical to the Sendai Framework’s overall aim of bringing about substantial reductions in disaster losses globally by 2030. It will also help link efforts to curb disaster risk to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Disaster risk reduction planning that integrates the welfare of animals and the people who rely on them can:
- Reduce the effects of future disasters
- Protect livelihoods, the economy and social wellbeing
- Decrease animal loss and suffering
- Value the participation of citizens in increasing a community’s ability to cope without government or NGO intervention
- Involve the most innovative thinking from across different fields of expertise.