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New guidelines for livestock emergencies

LEGS to help save livelihoods as well as lives

7 May 2009, Rome - Following the disastrous 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, several humanitarian organizations came forward to help households who had lost their livestock to rebuild herds and flocks by providing replacement animals.

But most of the animal shelters in the affected areas had been destroyed, and there was also a major shortage of winter feed. Consequently, many of the animals donated failed to survive.

A newly-developed set of Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) published today is designed to prevent similar mistakes recurring and to ensure that the livelihoods of vulnerable livestock keepers are protected in future crises.

Specifically, the LEGS initiative includes a set of international guidelines, decision support tools and standards for the design, implementation and assessment of livestock interventions on behalf of populations in need of emergency relief.

Appropriate interventions

It will assist specialists in livestock and humanitarian assistance involved in responding to emergencies to identify the most appropriate livestock interventions in collaboration with local communities and service providers. LEGS  addresses three central objectives:

  • Providing rapid assistance to crisis-affected populations
  • Assisting them to rebuild those assets
  • Protecting their livestock assets

“The initiative is of particular relevance in the current global context of climate change,” says FAO Senior Livestock Officer Simon Mack. Accompanied by more frequent extreme weather events, climate change is causing a growing number of humanitarian crises which often affect livestock-reliant communities in particular.

Translation of LEGS into French, Arabic and Spanish and a comprehensive programme of training users of LEGS will be undertaken with the support of the UK Department of International Development (DFID) and the European Union.

LEGS is a cooperative initiative between a number of different institutions and organizations including FAO, Feinstein Center (Tufts University), The African Union, the International Committee for the Red Cross and Vétérinaires sans frontières (VSF) Europa.

For further information visit the LEGS website, where a hard copy can be purchased and a free downloadable version will soon be available.

Photo: ©FAO/Ami Vitale
LEGS helps protect herders' livelihoods