Emergency Intervention

Emergency intervention is a key component of SPANA’s work, with the charity’s vets and partners delivering help in many of the world’s most insecure and dangerous regions.

In recent years, SPANA has led emergency campaigns in locations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur and Syria, getting help to animals in need wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Natural disasters, extreme weather and conflict are a fact of life for many in the developing world, as growing insecurity and climatic events such as the El Niño phenomenon continue to hit the poorest communities particularly hard.

Starving cattle eating SPANA food during Ethiopia drought emergencyWorking animal owners are often amongst the most vulnerable, with few reserves in times of crisis. When a working animal is lost, so is their livelihood. In some cases, particularly among the nomadic pastoralists of east Africa, livestock and working animal death is a precursor to famine and humanitarian tragedy.

The issue is highly relevant to the international community, including governments and aid organisations. For instance, in 2011, following severe drought, many people in the Horn of Africa lost their livestock. They had nothing left, no means of making a living, and in many cases they became institutionalised within aid camps. For many years SPANA has been one of the few organisations supporting feeding programmes for livestock. The investment needed to provide an animal feed programme is so small compared to the cost of emergency relief for starving people.

Recent emergencies

Ethiopia Emergency 2016

Following the most severe drought in Ethiopia in over 50 years, last year SPANA undertook an emergency feeding programme in Afar, one of the worst hit regions. Local people in Afar are mostly pastoralists who rely entirely on livestock for their livestock and for produce such as milk.

In total, SPANA fed 7837 livestock and working animals belonging to the poorest families over a four month period, distributing more than 150 tonnes of feed.

SPANA also put in place longer-term measures to assist people and their animals in the region long after the end of the drought. The charity planted 10 hectares of drought-resistant grasses to provide an ongoing, local food supply for livestock.

During the emergency, SPANA highlighted the lack of attention being given by the international community to tackling livestock deaths. Many of the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia depend on livestock for both economic and food security. SPANA warned that the failure to learn from the mistakes of the past and to take action to protect existing herds could lead to a complete collapse in livestock numbers, pre-empting a devastating humanitarian crisis across the country.

Egypt Emergency Feeding 2014

In 2014, the collapse in Egyptian tourism following years of political unrest had a devastating impact on animals working in the tourism industry, close to the Giza Pyramids. During the year SPANA worked with Egyptian charity ESAF, providing emergency feed to hundreds of malnourished carriage horses.

Crisis in Mbera 2012

In Mauritania, SPANA worked to save the lives of animals caught up in civil war and drought as tens of thousands of pastoralists crossed the Mali border to a large refugee camp in Mbera. SPANA was the only organisation providing support to the animals in the camps, vital for the long term survival of people, communities and animals.

Drought in Kenya 2011

SPANA funded feeding programmes in the far north east of Kenya, just a few miles from both the Somali and Ethiopian borders. It was the very epicentre of the crisis, with poor and dispossessed refugees arriving every day. Many were nomadic pastoralists: people who depend totally on livestock and working animals for transport, trade, milk – everything. When they lost their animals, they had no choice but to try and reach a refugee camp. With their animals gone, these people had no way to sustain themselves and became trapped in the camps, reliant on food aid. SPANA worked to prevent that. By providing fodder, veterinary help and vaccinations to working animals and livestock in terrible need. We helped families retain their independent livelihood and secured the long-term future for animals across the region.