Animals in Disasters

Protecting Animal Welfare in Disasters

Livestock production has been fronted as one of the key agricultural enterprises in Africa. It has also been recently highlighted as a key component in climate change resilience and adaptation strategies by several human development organisations. Nonetheless, most of the animals falling in this category are seldom cared for ordinarily, and are therefore naturally the most neglected human possession during disasters because they are by nature big in size and often more than one, which makes it impossible for the owners to secure or save them during such catastrophies. ALL CREATURES team is equipped and experienced in managing animal populations suffering from disasters. Unlike humans that are often prioritised in natural catastrophies by humanitarian organisations, animals are often neglected, even by government departments, and yet animals contribute to the wellbeing of over 70% of the people. It is therefore as benefitial to the animals as their owners to save the distressed, stray and abandoned animal population in such natural disasters. 

We hope to make this world happier.

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Donkeys supplying wood in Lilongwe

Cyclone Idai in Malawi

ALL CREATURES team was worked closely with district veterinary officers in a joint veterinary intervention with Humane Society International in response to the tropical Cyclone Idai. This is on record s as one of the worst cyclones in the recent African history! The long-lived storm caused catastrophic damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, leaving more than 1,200 people dead, thousands more missing and tens of thousands of animals were also affected by the disaster. Widespread flooding began on 9 March, washing out bridges, roads, and destroying numerous homes. In Malawi, Fourteen (14) districts experienced direct effects from the storm, with Nsanje and Phalombe being hardest-hit. The disaster directly affected 922,900 people nationwide–an estimated 460,000 being children–125,382 of whom were displaced or rendered homeless. A total of 60 people were killed and 577 others were reported injured as a result of flooding. A further three people are reported missing. Information on affected animals is still sparse but it was established that floods swept away thousands of animals in the affected areas.

Surviving animals are sick, injured and starving. Many animal owners only had one option, to save themselves and their families, so animals were left to fend for themselves.  It is the stray, confused and stranded animals that had been abandoned by their fleeing owners that our team went ahead to support. The stranded animals were at risk of developing deadly diseases from parasites and various waterborne ailments. Animals trapped in dirty water for prolonged periods are also risk developing other painful conditions such as foot rot and lung infections.  
"The floods in these areas may have longer lasting effects on animals, especially with regard to disease incidences and khola destructions." Dr Edwin Nkhulungo (State Vet)
 A team of five (5) personnel went for a three weeks mission led by Dr Tichaona to carry out the much needed intervention to save the animal victims of the Cyclone (floods). The target area (Chigumukile, Khoncha, Ntambula, Namphepo & Magololo) was the whole of Phalombe and nearly 71.4% of the planned areas were covered during the implementation. Animals received attention ranging from lumpy skin vaccination, oxytetracycline shots (those that needed it), ivermectin (dewormer), Newcastle vaccine (poultry), alamycin sprays (wounds), rabies vaccinations (dogs) and albendazole drenches, especially for the calves.
We tried to distribute the medicine so that each animal will receive one or more on those according to the necessities of the animal. All the farmers were happy and the general response, of such initiatives and intervention was positive. Stats: Cattle (5 620); Goats (4 906); Sheep (162); Pigs (53); Dogs (674), Cats (78); Ducks (4); Chickens (850); Total number of animals = 12,347

Calf with severe worm burden in Malawi

Cyclone Chedza Intervention

In January and February 2015, Malawi, Mozambique, Reunion, Madagascar and Zimbabwe experienced an exceptionally heavy rainfall, exacerbated by tropical cyclone Chedza, which experts say had a humanitarian impact of 80 fatalities  and an economic loss of $40 millions. 

The heavy rains falling in most highlands resulted in water swelling in most of low laying areas in the country with the Lower Shire districts namely Nsanje and Chikwawa being the hard hit. In his state of the nation address President Peter Mutharika declared a national disaster when heavy rainstorms and floods hit 15 out of the 28 districts in Malawi namely;  Chikwawa, Nsanje, Phalombe, Zomba, Rumphi, Karonga, Thyolo, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Balaka, Salima and Blantyre.  The Government of Malawi estimated 174,000 people have been displaced, 62 deaths and with 153 people still missing.

The swelling waters did not spare domestic animals such as chickens, goats and cattle which are a source of food and revenue for the people. The rains left behind a huge number of animal health problems, including pneumonia, wounds, lumpy skin disease and mastitis and foot rot, caused by water-logged soil. In wake of the resultant diseases after the floods our team and Ministry of Agriculture conducted mass drug administration animal health intervention in three of floods disaster hit southern region districts namely; Balaka, Machinga and Zomba to reduce the burden on farmers and raising hopes that they won’t lose their stock.

Dr Ssuna and his team extended veterinary attention to animals diagnosed with wounds, lameness (foo-rot), scours (diarrhoea) and those that were malnourished (emaciated). Chickens were also vaccinated against the deadly viral disease, Newcastle disease. The exercise greatly contributed to improved health status of animals that survived the torrential floods that swept crops including livestock injuring some in the process. The occasion also provided the platform for dissemination of information and communication messages on welfare and animal freedom to small scale livestock farmers and the public at large in the affected areas under Machinga Agriculture Development Division. Some of the assorted drugs include Oxyt-tetracycline, Pen step, Lvomectin, Fenbandozole, Beranil, Ex–it, Multi-Vitamin, syringes and needles among many others.

ALL CREATURES Country Director, Richard Ssuna said he was grateful for the support received from Humane Society International (HSI) to procure the drugs adding, all institutions are passionate about the welfare of animals. 

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We hope to make this world happier.