Why animals matter in a disaster

People with their remaining livestock after flooding, Bangladesh

WSPA protects the welfare of animals in disaster situations because we believe they can suffer and feel pain. Our work benefits the human victims of disasters by saving fragile rural livelihoods and loved companions.

In much of the developing world, animals and people are closely reliant. The people are often totally dependent on their animals to cultivate land and provide food and transport.

Approximately one quarter of the global poor keep livestock, according to United Nations figures. Within these communities, healthy animals are an integral part of:

  • Jobs and the economy
  • Food security
  • Physical security
  • Health
  • Culture

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

If disaster strikes

Animals are often displaced or abandoned in disaster zones, and suffer terribly from injuries and disease. Hunger and dehydration become killers.

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

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

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 long term aid for communities – they retain more ability to be self sufficient.

One WSPA partnership in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, reduced the death rate in horses and mules by 85%. This saved jobs and protected the financial future of the poorest people.

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 disaster management work in Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and Myanmar.

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