Pacific nations building resilience by protecting animals and livelihoods during disasters
When disasters strike, the impact is devastating for animals and the communities that depend on them. With experts predicting more frequent severe weather events as the world’s climate changes, there is the potential for large numbers of animals to suffer and die as a result of natural disasters across the Pacific. Many millions of people rely on animals for livelihoods and sustenance, the loss of animals also has a long-term impact on the recovery of communities.
World Animal Protection is attending the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa this week, highlighting the importance of protecting animals during disasters, which is also part of continuing work to ensure animals are included in the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals and targets are currently under development and due to be implemented by all UN member states from 2016 to 2030.
Kiwi Dr Wayne Ricketts, a disaster management vet with World Animal Protection said: “We all have a responsibility to provide for the needs of animals, protecting them from pain and suffering. With better treatment of animals and integrating them in planning, we can prepare for disasters and address development issues such as poverty, food security, healthy oceans and sustainable livelihoods. To build a truly sustainable future we must take care of our animals and we can do this by including them in the Sustainable Development Goals.”
World Animal Protection has been working for over 50 years to help governments and communities respond to, and prepare for disasters, enabling people to protect animals and rebuild their lives. The only animal welfare organisation with a full-time global network of response teams, staff can be on the scene of a disaster within the first few critical days. In the Pacific, in recent years, teams have responded to help animals and communities following disasters in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
World Animal Protection also helps governments prepare for future disasters and has delivered training for Pacific representatives on the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) which includes simple early warning systems and coordinated evacuation of animals.
Dr Ricketts added: “We know Samoa and the Pacific region is very vulnerable to the continuing impacts of climate change and natural disasters, so it’s important to build awareness and help people take action to protect their animals before and during disasters. If you take care of animals, you are also taking care of communities. Protecting animals can reduce the need for long-term aid. If animals are saved, families can stay self-sufficient. People survive, recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.”