Evaluating How Best to Help flood-stricken animals in Pakistan

We just received the assessment from our team in Pakistan and as we feared, the conditions are horrible. The images show an entire region struggling with flooding –villages gone, crops destroyed, families displaced, and lives lost.A dog in the Pakistani flood plain. We just received the assessment from our team in Pakistan and as we feared, the conditions are horrible.  The images show an entire region struggling with flooding –villages gone, crops destroyed, families displaced, and lives lost. The first priority must be human lives but the time is right now for us to help the animals. The animals in Pakistan are such an important part of the culture and family’s well-being: farm animals help plow the fields, chickens provide eggs, goats provide milk and cheese, and dogs provide security - so it only makes sense for us to step in and address the animal needs. One of the hardest parts of emergency relief is prioritizing which animals/geographic area will receive aid when there are so many to help and limited funding. Just in the Sanghar District (four union councils) alone, there are 1100 families displaced with nearly 10,000 livestock, 3327 horses and donkeys, and an unknown number of dogs.

Realistically, it would take approximately $78,000 (USD) to feed all those animals for just two weeks! And this disaster will likely go on for months. And keep in mind that this is just a small part of the affected area. We can’t help them all and even if all the international humane groups chip in - we can’t save them all.  Trust me when I tell you - that keeps us all awake at nights! So, how do we decide where we will work and which animals we will concentrate on?  It’s a tough decision for sure and not one that can be made without a significant amount of information – which is why the assessment process is so important. In the case of Pakistan, there are a number of variables that will enter into the relief equation such as:

  • Is the timing right for an animal relief effort – have the immediate human needs been met?
  • Where are the waters expected to recede quickly and allow animals to go back to natural grazing?
  • How accessible is feed and water?
  • Can we access the affected areas with big trucks?
  • How receptive are the communities and leadership to support animal relief?
  • Which regions are most critical for the overall economic recovery of the area?
  • Can we ensure that our efforts actually get to the animal – will our funds be secure?

There are so many more questions that I ask every time that we consider a relief project and the decision making process is as much science as it is an art and there are probably no perfect answers.  But from my perspective, it is better to narrow the scope to a manageable number where we have the greatest chance of seeing animals survive throughout the entire ordeal.  For situations like Pakistan and India where the flooding will likely go on for months, we must be careful not to overextend our reach. We want to help all the animals affected by disasters and it's always hard to come to terms that we can only help as many animals as our current level of funds allow. -- IR 

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Experts

Cora Bailey
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Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
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Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
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Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
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