#DONTFORGETTHEM

Don’t leave animals behind in disasters

Ditch tendency to neglect what dictates and sustains our livelihoods.

In Summary

• When they die or get affected during disasters, it has a devastating impact on the people who rely on them for companionship and economic status. 

A cat injured after a wildfire swept through Paradise, California, in November last year.
A cat injured after a wildfire swept through Paradise, California, in November last year.

One evening just before 5pm on January 12, 2010, dogs began barking all over Haiti. Seconds later the ground shook as a massive earthquake unleashed unimaginable disaster never witnessed on the island nation.

More than 250,000 people perished, while at least a million animals were either lost or displaced. Such a massive loss was heartwrenching and incomprehensible.

The catastrophe was a wake-up call. From 2012, deliberate efforts have been undertaken to substantially reduce disaster risks and protect lives, livelihoods and assets. The stakeholder consultations gave birth to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

It acknowledges the severe impact of disasters on both people and animals, with the latter also incurring injuries, starvation, thirst, displacement, illnesses and stress in equal measure.

The Framework emphasises the protection of livelihoods and productive assets, including livestock and working animals, but which we often flee from during disasters forgetting that we are actually leaving behind our sustenance – one of our basic sources of survival. 

The World Animal Protection, an international not-for-profit organisation, works to protect and care for these animals. A current global campaign called #DontForgetThem or #Usiwasahau seeks to promote animal welfare and protection within country disaster risk management systems.

We have the capacity to allocate funds, time, develop policies and make provisions for resources that could help alleviate the plight of animals in duress. The time is nigh to invest and dedicate ourselves towards the pursuit of this noble endeavour.

It is anchored upon the Animals in Disaster (AiD) initiative, which focuses on four key areas: Policies, capacity building, animal disaster financing (funds and insurance) and public participation.

The establishment of the fund and its domestication in the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) at both national and county level will among many things enable the development of animal emergency response plans; preparedness, response and recovery from animal-related disasters; equip veterinary emergency response units and expand livestock extension services; as well as enhance livestock infrastructure for easy relocation and recovery.

We, therefore, need to lobby and publicly advocate for an all-inclusive animal disaster risk reduction plans. The message needs to be clear both at home and on the international arena. We should not forget the animals in our discussions on disaster plans and investment since they are vulnerable and prone to devastating consequences.

We have the capacity to allocate funds, time, develop policies and make provisions for resources that could help alleviate the plight of animals in duress. The time is nigh to invest and dedicate ourselves towards the pursuit of this noble endeavour.

 

Let us ditch this tendency to forget, neglect or fail to cater to what dictates and sustains our livelihoods. 

When we evacuate, let's not leave behind our animals. For when they die or get affected during disasters, it has a devastating impact on the people who rely on them for companionship and economic status. 

In Geneva during the sixth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2019), World Animal Protection lobbied delegates from target countries to support this campaign. A similar plea is being done in Kenya to the government and public.

A coordinated approach among the government, non-governmental institutions and communities will aid response effectiveness and recovery, minimising animal suffering, loss, and cushioning millions of livestock farmers against economic losses. #DontForgetThem

Director for Africa - World Animal Protection [email protected]