By working with local communities, we are creating a sustainable solution to the problems faced by cattle during flood season
In 2015, Myanmar was hit with its worst flooding in decades. In the Ayeyarwady region, many homes are built on stilts, so people were somewhat prepared. However, the cows that the communities relied on for traditional ploughing of fields were not. Caught in the floodwaters with no safe place to go, these cows were left vulnerable to disease and death and their distraught owners were unable to save them.
When IFAW arrived on the ground to provide emergency care, we realized something: the same elevation that saved people could save cows. So we partnered with the local community and livestock authority to develop a solution that would benefit both people and animals, and was rooted in traditional knowledge. Together, we created the design for a Safeland, or raised earthen platform, where cows could seek refuge from rising floodwaters. Then, we helped buy and donate the land, build the platform, and improve its design over the course of a year. We ensured community participation and local ownership of the project. Through workshops and exchange visits, we equipped community members to independently manage their village’s Safeland platform and pass that knowledge on to others.
The original Safeland served as a model project - demonstrating the success of a community-led committee to oversee the management of the platform, and how information sharing with other villages and government representatives could work. Myanmar’s government is investing its own resources to replicate Safelands across the delta region. Today, the Safelands Project operates in 11 different communities and offers vital protection for both cows and the community members that rely on these animals for their livelihoods and to support their families. The Safelands project was featured on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development platform, highlighting the project’s commitment to implementing a sustainable conservation and animal welfare practices.
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