Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Safeguarding Livestock and Livelihoods

Millions of people depend on livestock as a source of food and a means to support their livelihood. In some communities, the dependency on livestock far exceeds that of other income-generating activities. For example, 80 percent of the population of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is dependent on livestock.

Climatic events and man-made disasters can have devastating impacts on livestock and the communities that depend on them. Events ranging from drought to civil conflict often lie outside of our control. Preventing these disasters is nearly impossible, but we can choose how to plan and respond to such events to lessen their impact. As the day-to-day activities of livestock-rearing tethers farmers to the present, how do we plan for events that could occur in the future?

On February 26, the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and Agrilinks hosted a seminar that explored the design and implementation of programming related to emergency response. This two-part seminar also presented findings from a recent evaluation that showcased how to develop and implement successful Community Animal Health Worker (CAHW) programs in East Africa.

Key Takeaways

  • Pre-planning is key. There are significant savings from pre-planning and early action in crisis situations. It is important to disseminate the evidence that shows successes and underscores the value of instituting an emergency response plan as part of intervention designs. When governments and policymakers understand the cost of failing to plan ahead, funding for emergency response planning becomes more compelling.
  • Minimize unintended consequences. Mercy Corp's Andrew Bisson gave an excellent example from Jordan, where a disease outbreak occurred among livestock in communities where Mercy Corps worked. Unknown to Mercy Corps, another NGO which heard of the outbreak moved to immediately truck in and distribute large quantities of antibiotics throughout the area. Despite good intentions, this intervention negatively impacted pharmacies and other stakeholders in the local economy. For many, business trickled to a virtual standstill. The new Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) provide a structure based on similar experiences to ensure unintended consequences are minimized.
  • Build upon local markets. Interventions should build upon and enhance the ability of local markets in a way that does not distort normal coping strategies in times of emergency. Julie March of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance said many in the humanitarian community first look at assessment-based interventions. She referenced a tool called Emergency Market Mapping Analysis.
  • Bring everyone to the table. In an effort to minimize unintended consequences and build upon existing market capacity, tools like the Participatory Response Identification Matrix (PRIM)—found in the new LEGS manual—can be used to facilitate discussion with different stakeholders and identify interventions that are most appropriate, given the context of the initial assessment. Because the results of the participatory discussion reflect the viewpoints of stakeholders, this can ultimately guide decision-making and minimize unintended consequences.

In the video below, independent consultant Emma Jowett discusses the Participatory Response Identification Matrix in greater detail.

The conversation online was robust, with many participants sharing resources and experiences. Resources from the online discussion can be found below:

Interested in learning more about the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) manual? Andy Catley from Tufts University and Andrew Bisson from Mercy Corps discuss the background, context and objectives of the manual in the video below.