Recent heavy rains in Ecuador have meant over 3,000 rural families affected in the Santa Ana District after the main river in the zone burst its banks. Crops were absolutely destroyed by the flooding and many animals are currently suffering skin infections, pneumonias and diarrhoeas.
After the declaration of the state of emergency, a DART team from neighbour country Colombia -where our South American office is based in- flew to Ecuador to evaluate the animal welfare need. While the weather again played havoc with the itineraries and they had to spend many hours being detoured to different airports, our WSPA team has started the field work and this is what our DM manager, Julia Lema, has just reported back:
Unfortunately the floods have affected the poorest people in this community, their houses, roads and bridges are covered by mud, which has made the access to their animals even more complicated. They have reported this is the first time they have to face an emergency like this and are very concerned to have to add more animal losses to the aftermath of the emergency as many of them were cropping on loans.
We share their concerns as the region is presenting a critical epidemiological situation caused by intestinal parasites and the surviving animals drinking dirt water will be at a high risk as well as the humans around. Horses, dogs, pigs and poultry are already in very bad conditions and sick with pneumonias and diarrhoeas.
Besides what we have been able to witness, the flights over the affected area have allowed the authorities to find people and animals trapped by the water and the mud. In these communities the link between animals and humans is even stronger; with such a rural lifestyle, they heavily depend on them for income, transportation and food and are not willing to leave them behind in an evacuation. But the emotional link is not weaker, and the following story is why.
One of the members of the local Disaster Management authority told me this:
“When the emergency stroke, I went with a partner to deliver aid to the affected people. That was a very exhausting day and we took a moment to eat lunch. Then a little boy came to us with his female dog behind saying that she had lost their babies in the floods, and that his own mother had been able to save the puppies’ mother but not the puppies, so he felt they had failed. It was hard to see but was also a lesson learnt from a boy.
Our WSPA team remains working in the field and we will keep you posted.