Protecting animals from natural disasters before they strike
It’s not enough to respond only after a disaster has struck. This International Day for Disaster Reduction (October 13), our disasters project manager highlights the importance of proactively protecting animals and animal owners
Our disaster teams act as quickly as possible to save the lives of animals after naturals disasters hit. We urgently deployed to the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017, just a month before the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
During a typical response, we feed and give medical care to tens of thousands of animals in urgent need of help.
But outside these emergency situations, we carry out vital work to reduce the impact of disasters on animals and the people who rely on them.
Teaching communities how best to protect their animals, and providing them with resources to do so, means safeguarding lives and livelihoods.
If the worst does happen, fewer animals will suffer or die.
Eugenia Morales is a project manager in our disaster management team. She explains exactly why disaster risk reduction is so vital in our mission to move the world to protect animals.
Q: Disaster risk reduction (DRR) can seem like a complicated topic. What does it mean?
Eugenia: DRR is an investment in the safety and futures of pets, farm animals, and wild animals.
It can mean to simply take action that would lessen the impact if a disaster were to strike. For example, when a family builds their home on high land to avoid flooding, they are reducing risk.
In the case of communities that depend on their animals, other actions could include having food and water reservoirs in case of droughts. If you live close to a volcano, you’d cover your animals' food and water to protect it from volcanic ash in case of an eruption.
Governments have policies and strategies in place to reduce risk and we work to ensure animals are impacted as little as possible by disasters.
Q: How does World Animal Protection promote DRR?
Eugenia: We work with governments, communities, organisations and people globally, to ensure animals are protected from disasters.
In Aldama, a small community in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico we developed a pilot with cattle owners to better protect the animals from drought.
Through water dams and improved pastures that were more resistant to the climate, the cattle owners were able to feed and give water to their animals in case of a drought.
We have also been working alongside the Indian government to assist with the inclusion of animals in its disaster risk reduction strategies.
As a result, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) added animal welfare to national plans. We're very proud of the results because each step the Indian Government undertakes will positively impact millions of animals.
Q: What DRR projects have you been involved in? Did they work?
Eugenia: We participated in a risk reduction project with the Mexican Red Cross in Tabasco, Mexico in 2015 and 2016. We developed of pilots for selected communities with farm animals, to help improve animal welfare and livelihood protection.
One of the DRR actions we implemented were racks for birds to protect them from flooding. The racks have been very successful. The Red Cross plans to install 546 more racks in 10 communities by the end of this year. This will benefit 546 families, 2,000 people, and of course the birds who use them.
The Red Cross is providing the materials but the construction is the responsibility of the communities, and they’ll have local facilitators to show them how it’s done.
In Costa Rica we developed a community pilot in the flood-prone community of Sarapiqui to help them become more resilient.
We lead workshops for the local farmers to help them identify risks, but most importantly understand the actions needed to reduce risks for their cattle.
After our intervention, 80% of these farmers had taken preparedness measure to protect their animals, such as growing food on higher ground.