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Why animals matter in a disaster

People with their remaining livestock after flooding, Bangladesh

In disaster situations WSPA works to protect the welfare of animals because they can suffer and feel pain, and because, by saving fragile rural and urban livelihoods and much loved companions, the human victims of disasters are better off.

In much of the developing world, animals and people are closely reliant. People need animals to cultivate their land, provide them with food, produce and transport. They are often totally dependent on their animals.

According to UN figures, approximately one quarter of the global poor keep livestock. Within these communities, healthy animals are an integral part of:

  • jobs and the economy

  • food security

  • physical security

  • health

  • culture

Understanding this, WSPA works to prepare communities for the effects of disasters on their animals and to minimize the potential suffering.

If disaster strikes

In disaster zones animals are often displaced or abandoned and suffer terribly from injuries and disease. In these circumstances, hunger and dehydration become killers.

  • Conflict may arise between animals and humans as limited food and aid after a disaster may not be able to sustain both.

  • If working animals are killed, injured or lost, people may be left with no source of income and no way to rebuild their lives.

  • Without healthy animals, people are unable to travel and have no long-term source of income. The loss of domestic pets can add to people’s psychological distress.

Helping animals helps people

Saving animals in disaster situations reduces the need for a community’s long-term aid – as it retains more ability to be self sufficient.

Protecting animals can help minimize the impact of disasters on poor communities. Failing to protect animals can make things worse.

Read more about WSPA’s work protecting livestock in Myanmar >>

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