FMARD advocates animal welfare during emergencies, disaster


…Organises stakeholders forum to seek ways in reducing losses

By Palma Ileye

Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, at a One-Day National Stakeholders Consultative meeting has advocated the need for animal welfare and safety during emergencies and disaster in the country as their importance to the economy cannot be over emphasized.

Stating that globally, animal welfare was one of the contemporary and compelling issues as Nigeria has witnessed unpleasant situations of flooding in all the geopolitical zones of the country that led to the loss of lives and properties which does not exclude animals.

FMARD revealed that these experiences have shown that little or no consideration was given to animals during emergencies such as flooding, fire disaster, conflicts and insurgency also pointing out that the welfare of animals and humans were closely linked.

It furthermore explained that the secured supply and provision of animal protein for the populace depends on the health and productivity of the animals.
Accordingly, it was paramount to provide guidelines that can reduce losses of animals during emergencies and disasters.

Speaking yesterday during the stakeholders’ forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, FMARD, inconjunction with F and A Engineering Construction Links Ltd held at Karu LGA in Nasarawa State, the Overseeing Director and Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria of the Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr Musa Mohammed Inuwa, stated that there was need for creating awareness and the sensitisation of relevant stakeholders on good animal practices especially in emergencies and disaster situation in the country.

Inuwa noted that the essence of the meeting was to provide a platform for effective engagement and interaction among relevant stakeholders on implementing policies on matters concerning the general care of animals in production, processing, transportation, research and games during emergencies and disaster situation in Nigeria.

He disclosed that the National Animal Welfare Strategy for Nigeria which was approved by the National Council Of Agriculture in 2016, followed by the inauguration of the National Council on Animal Welfare by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mahmood Abubakar on 4th August, 2022 as well as the implementation of the policy of the Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, were efforts by the Ministry in stepping towards the introduction of global best practices in the Nigeria’s Animal Welfare Strategy which was inline with guidelines and standards provided by World Organisation for Animal Health, WOAH.

Also, the National President, Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association, NVMA, Dr. Mrs Olutoyin Adetuberu stated that the meeting was of great importance because during disaster, human beings were being rescued and data of those being rescued collected but no cognisance is given to animals.

Adetuberu noted that the meeting was basically on how to rescue and rehabilitate animals during disaster and emergencies adding that, “we are looking at how to incorporating the animals health components into the National Emergency Management Agency, if we have veterinarians there, they should be able to rescue these animals effectively.

“They will be trained specially on the ability to rescue these animals, already they know how to rehabilitate but how to rescue these animals is very important, therefore there is a lot we are discussing in this stakeholders meeting ideas that will help the animal sector, disaster and emergency management etc. So that we don’t just loose our animals.”

She said, “Also we want to consider that some of these animals are captive animals during disasters, walls of zoos can collapse and fall and the run off from the provided shelters, we are not just rescuing because they are animals we are also considering the human aspects of it, so that these loose animals cannot come and attack human beings or populace.

“So in this stakeholders meeting is an encompassing meetings and we hope to come out with recommendations on animal safety and hope they will be able to adhere to it.
And here I want to recommend that during emergencies, the animal rescuers should always be involved, even the Road Safety, FRSC, should have animal rescue team or vets because sometimes these animals encounter accidents on the way and get injured or die, for the injured animals they should be able to rehabilitate them.”

She called on the Nigerian Government to set up committees that would include Vetenarians and animal health components to rescue and handle emergencies.

Meanwhile the communique at the end if the meeting, recommended that; A legislation for an Act on Animal welfare was highly recommended; as well as the Establishment of Animal Emergency Response Teams, AERT, across all States of the Federation, FCT inclusive.

It read that the response team shall comprise of Veterinarians and Paraprofessionals, Security Agencies, Rangers
Stakeholders, Development Partners, Farmers Associations, Civil Societies, Pressure groups
Field, Epidemiologists/Statisticians
Quarantine Personnel, Capacity building of the AERT on Animal Rescue, Triage and Rehabilitation.

It continued; “Establishment of Animal Rescue Centers across the Federation with the following facilities: Ambulatory Vans, first aid kits, PPE, and other consumables. Cranes, Trucks, Restraint equipment/drugs.

“The incorporation of Animal Emergency Response Team, AERT, into NEMA/SEMA is highly recommended; the Establishment of “Animal Marshals” for the entire Federation to take up monitoring, enforcement and compliance on Animal welfare Standards; the Enlightenment of the general public on Animal Welfare during emergencies and disasters and the Encouragement of relevant Units/Departments/Faculties in Institutions of higher learning/Research institutes to include Animal welfare into their curricular and research activities.”