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A Palestinian farmer taking a herd of goats to a rehabilitated cistern in an arid region, for a drink of water. ©FAO/Marco Longari


When livestock really matters

A completely revised edition of the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) Handbook is now available

The Project

The Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) are a set of international guidelines for livelihoods-based livestock responses in emergencies. The LEGS Project, established in 2005, grew out of concerns about approaches used for livestock relief projects in emergencies.

The aim of the LEGS project is to support the saving of lives and the saving of livelihoods through two key strategies:

  • Assist in the identification of most appropriate livestock-related technical interventions in emergencies.
  • Provide standards, indicators and guidance notes for these interventions based on good practice.

LEGS was accepted as a formal companion to the Sphere Project’s Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response in 2011. FAO is one of the donors of the LEGS Project.


Developing the LEGS Handbook

The LEGS Handbook was developed through a broad consultation process, under the supervision of the LEGS Steering Group. Representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the African Union, Tufts University and other organizations are members of the Steering Group. Individual chapters were written by focal point authors and reviewed via a web consultation.
The Handbook begins with an overview of emergencies, livestock and livelihoods, and the LEGS objectives; followed by a set of Core Standards applicable to all livestock-based interventions; and tools and guidelines for assessment and identifying responses. Six main technical interventions are outlined: destocking; veterinary support; feed; water, livestock shelter; and provision of livestock. For each of these technical chapters, there is a set of standards, key actions and guidance notes, supported by decision-trees, timing tables and other participatory tools. Case studies illustrate each chapter with examples of good practice from the field. The first edition of the LEGS Handbook was published in 2009 and has been translated into French, Spanish, Arabic, Thai and Vietnamese.


The LEGS Training Programme

Since the publication of the first edition, the LEGS Project has rolled out a training and awareness raising programme, based on training of trainers’ courses and the building of national and local capacity in developing regions of the world. To-date there have been eighteen regional Training of Trainers courses, resulting in 326 LEGS Trainers world-wide. Between them they have carried out over 160 LEGS Training courses independently of the LEGS Project, reaching over 3,400 individuals in 33 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.


The 2nd Edition

In 2014 a worldwide consultation process was launched through the LEGS website and Mailing List, to obtain feedback and comments on the 1st edition of the LEGS Handbook. A number of technical reviews were also commissioned on key topics including: cash transfers and vouchers; climate change; livestock in camps; gender; resilience; and animal welfare. The Handbook was thoroughly revised to incorporate the results of the feedback and the findings of the technical reviews. As a result of the review, the chapter on shelter was revised to clarify better how livestock shelter fits within the broader context of human shelter and settlement, and the chapter on restocking was restructured to reflect two key options of replacing livestock assets and building livestock assets. The case studies were expanded and separated into process and impact examples.