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The “consultative draft” is now available for feedback and comment

The FAO Animal Production and Health Division (AGA) is pleased to be associated with the development of LEGS and encourages everyone who has an interest in livestock development and emergency relief to read and contribute to the “consultative draft” which is now available on-line at www.livestock-emergency.net. Your views, experience and comments are essential to make this a truly worthwhile and practical document for practitioners in the field. The “consultative draft” closes for comments at the end of August.


The Livestock Emergency Guidelines (LEGS) are being developed as a set of international guidelines for the design, implementation and assessment of livestock related interventions to assist people affected by humanitarian crises.

The LEGS process:

  • Grew out of the recognition that livestock are a crucial livelihoods asset for people throughout the world, and that livestock interventions are often a feature of the relief responses. Yet to date, there are no widely-available guidelines to assist donors, programme managers or technical experts in the design or implementation of livestock interventions in disasters.
  • Recognizes that climatic trends and civil unrest are causing more frequent and varied humanitarian crises, particularly affecting communities who rely heavily on livestock.
  • Mirrors the process used for developing the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response – the Sphere Project. The process is based on multi-agency contributions, broad reviews and collation of practitioner experience.
  • Will result in an independent publication available as hard copy and CD-ROM including an interactive decision-making tool. Soft copies will also be available on the website. LEGS will also run a series of awareness-raising and training events to promote the use and future revision of the guidelines.

Background to LEGS

A number of agencies involved in livestock relief work, including FAO, have begun to examine the quality and effectiveness of their emergency interventions. Common concerns have been raised about the late delivery of essential livestock services, the impact of the free distribution of inputs on local service providers, and the cost-benefits of some restocking programmes. There is a growing recognition that many agencies and staff implementing emergency programmes often lack the necessary technical expertise to make informed choices about livestock-based responses in an emergency.

These concerns have been linked to current thinking on livelihoods and the concept of ‘saving lives and livelihoods’. For example, some agencies, including FAO, have started to explore more innovative ways to deliver emergency livestock assistance through de-stocking programmes using local traders or deliver emergency veterinary care through the private sector. The LEGS process aims to bring these and other initiatives together to produce a single set of international guidelines for livestock related emergency interventions. LEGS will cover all types of disaster: rapid onset (earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and hurricanes), slow onset (drought) and complex emergencies, such as Darfur. It does not cover major outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases as these are already adequately covered by EMPRES. LEGS will assist donors and programme managers to identify appropriate types of livestock intervention and design these interventions with communities and local service providers. As a decision support tool, it assists in exploring the available options in a specific situation by ensuring the right questions are asked and the implications any action is fully understood. LEGS will also direct users to further technical information for livestock-related livelihoods support in emergencies.

Scope and Contents

LEGS is based on three livelihoods based objectives:

  • Providing rapid assistance to crisis affected communities
  • Protecting the livestock assets of crisis affected communities
  • Assisting the re-building of livestock assets among crisis-affected communities

An introductory chapter assist in identifying livelihood based livestock responses in an emergency. This will lead into the key technical areas covered by LEGS which are:

  • Destocking
  • Veterinary care (excluding outbreaks of major transboundary diseases)
  • Provision of feed
  • Provision of water
  • Shelter for livestock
  • Provision of livestock to disaster affected communities

Crossing themes include:

  • Gender
  • HIV/Aids
  • Environment
  • Security and Protection

In addition, AGA and the IGAD Livestock Policy Imitative (an AGA Pro Poor Livestock Policy Facility (PLPF) project) are funding the development of the associated interactive software for the electronic decision support tool. AGA is also in the process of preparing detailed technical manuals which will complement the technical chapters in LEGS and will cover: destocking, animal health, supplementary feeding and restocking.

Steering Group, Sponsors and FAO Involvement

The LEGS Steering Group was established to oversee the production of the guidelines. The role of the Steering Group is to coordinate the production process, provide quality control, facilitate consultation processes with a wide range of stakeholders, and foster the establishment of a network.

The Steering Group is made up of the following individuals:

  • Robert Allport, Regional Director, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Belgium.
  • Andy Catley, Research Director, Feinstein International Center (FIC), Tufts University.
  • Solomon Hailemariam, former African Union/Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture
  • Simon Mack, Senior Officer, Livestock Production Group, FAO; and
  • Piers Simpkin, Regional Livestock Adviser, International Committee for the Red Cross

Progress thus far and future milestones

  • Focal Point authors have produced first drafts of the technical chapters, which have been reviewed and revised by the Steering Group.
  • An electronic version based on the LEGS text with interactive decision-making tools which is being developed by FAO.
  • A consolidated draft has been posted on the LEGS website (25th June) for comment and feedback up until the end of August.
  • Based on the feedback, a ‘field test’ draft will then be produced for testing in the field and in simulation workshops during November and December 2007.
  • A publisher (Oxfam Publishing) has been identified and the manuscript and electronic tool will be finalised by March 2008, ready for publication in October 2008. The accompanying FAO technical manuals will be available at the same time.

Contributing to LEGS

The LEGS process involves consultation with a broad range of stakeholders and draws on existing guidelines and other materials as much as possible. The “consultative” draft chapters are now posted on the website (www.livestock-emergency.net) and will remain there until the end of August for feedback and comment.

To be kept informed on a regular basis of the progress of LEGS please the LEGS Co-ordinator, email: coordinator@livestock-emergency.net, to join the Mailing List. A number of individuals and organisations will be invited to form the ‘Practitioner Group’, to field test the revised drafts during August-October 2007.