The World Animal Protection, an international not-for-profit organization that guards’ animals from cruelty and suffering is engaged in a campaign dubbed #AnimalsInDisaster, seeking to promote animal protection within national disaster risk management systems.
In Africa, the global campaign was launched in Nanyuki, Laikipia county on 24th May 2019 bringing together the County Government of Laikipia, Department of Veterinary Services, the University of Nairobi and members of the public. It strives to facilitate swift response to animals faced by disasters such as diseases, floods, drought, landslides and fires. All partners and members of the public signed a pledge committing to protect animals.
“Every time disaster strikes, livelihoods and productive assets are affected among them livestock and working animals. The negative effects are destructive on the family unit and overall community resilience. The Animal in Disasters initiative seeks to invest and enhance animal protection through effective disaster preparedness and response,” said Tennyson Williams, Director for Africa, World Animal Protection.
World Animal Protection is supporting countries achieve the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction (2016–2030) whose main objective is to reduce disaster risks that undermine development. This year’s Animal in Disasters initiative is running in South America (Costa Rica, Brazil and Mexico), Asia (India & Thailand) and Africa (Kenya) with the global initiative having converged in Geneva during the global United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) meeting held from 13 – 15 May 2019.
In Africa, represented by Kenya, the campaign will support the development of animal disaster funds (ADF) in partnership with the government at national and county levels. Once established, the ADF will facilitate rapid response to animal disasters caused by notifiable diseases and natural hazards.
It will also facilitate the establishment of National and County Animals Emergency Disaster Plans, support training for specialised veterinary response and establish animal evacuation and holding facilities.
“Livestock husbandry being a devolved function, we have made great strides toward the protection of animals through legislation and deliberate projects that promote animal welfare. We continue to work with the World Animal Protection and line partners, scaling up our operations to ensure we safeguard animals from common disasters,” noted Dr. Lucy Murugi, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Laikipia county.
Under the slogan #Don’tForgetThem, the global campaign is anchored on four focus areas: Policies; Capacity Building, Animal Disaster Financing (Funds and insurance) and Public participation.
The Animal Disaster Fund will: develop Animal Emergency Response Plans for livestock, companion animals, working animals, wildlife, and aquatic animals; prepare, respond and recover from animal related disasters; establish Veterinary Emergency Response units; as well as support veterinary emergency training at the University of Nairobi, AHITIs, national and county Departments of Veterinary Services.
It will also develop and disseminate disaster preparedness information to animal owners and the public; integrate animal welfare and disaster risk reduction into livestock extension services, also develop and upgrade livestock infrastructure to be disaster-ready to support relocation and recovery.
This will guarantee immediate relief to animals affected in disasters, an angle that has not been prioritized by the disaster response and management bodies. Past rescues have focussed on saving human lives overlooking the protection of key livelihoods and productive assets such as livestock and working animals.