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World Animal Protection urges the UN to consider animals in disaster planning

Posted on 30th May 2019 at 07:10am

World Animal Protection (WAP) deploys quickly to disaster zones in order to protect animals affected by earthquakes, floods, typhoons and other disasters. It provides food, water, medical care, and other emergency assistance to animals in need. Its staff also evacuate animals from danger, and reunite animals and owners that have been separated. According to WAP, the onus is now on governments to do more.

Helping animals helps people

When animals die during disasters, the impact on the people who rely on them for companionship and economic status can be devastating. It is estimated that over one billion of the world’s poorest people depend on animals for food, transport and livelihoods.

When disasters hit, animals can experience the same terrible effects as people: injury, starvation, thirst, displacement, illness and stress

Disaster risk reduction   

As well as responding to disasters, WAP works year-round to help countries prepare and reduce the impact on animals and their owners. Through its work, it encourages governments, international bodies, and local and national partners to include animals in their plans, policies and practice, by: 

  • lobbying and publicly campaigning for animal-inclusive disaster risk reduction strategies at the international and national level; 
  • conducting training activities with local government officials ; 
  • training partner organisations on animal rescue and disaster management through workshops and PrepVet, an online course it developed; and
  • helping animal owners in disaster prone areas to learn how to care for their animals  

Governments: Don’t forget them

WAP wants governments to take urgent steps to protect both people and animals by including animals in their disaster plans. Its message is clear: don’t forget animals in global discussions on disaster risk reduction, disaster plans and investments.

Governments and the global disaster response community know that protecting animals helps people to rebuild their lives following a disaster. Yet animals are rarely included in national disaster plans and investments, and their needs are seldom factored into relief operations.

In May 2019, the world’s governments, investors, UN agencies and NGOs are getting together at the UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, to discuss how to reduce the risk of disasters. Animals need to be part of the conversation on disasters. But since they can’t be brought to the meeting, WAP is taking inflatable animal ambassadors from across the globe instead.  

These ambassadors, from six different countries (India, Brazil, Thailand, USA, Kenya and Costa Rica), represent the millions of animals in need of protection against disasters. They’ll return to their home countries after the event, to continue to spread their important message and to urge governments to include animals in their disaster plans.

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Photos courtesy of World Animal Protection

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