In June this year, severe flooding and landslides hit Northern India. This was the country's worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. Our disaster response team is now on the ground and responding to the animal welfare need.
After days of heavy rainfall, the state of Uttarakhand experienced a combination of devastating floods and sudden landslides. Many other regions also experienced severe weather, but it was Uttarakhand that was worst hit with 95% of casualties in the area.
We now know that communities in the region experienced tragic losses. In total, 580 people have lost their lives, over 4,000 have been injured and 3,000 are missing. As for animals, there have been 9,000 lives lost and hundreds of shelters damaged. In a region that relies on livestock for food and income, our work to improve animal welfare will also be of huge benefit to people.
Working with the Pithoragarh District Veterinary Office and the Association for People Advancement and Action Research has helped us respond to two of the worst hit areas - Dharchula and Musyari Block in Pithoragarh District. Rapid assistance is now being provided for veterinary care, tree plantation projects (as a preventative measure both against future landslides and also as an additional food resource) and construction of safe animal shelters. We will also be working with animal owners on ways to better manage future disasters. This will include disaster management planning and the distribution of education materials for emergency animal care in event of future earthquakes, landslides or flash floods.
We’re anticipating these interventions to directly improve the welfare of more than 92,000 animals and up to 10,000 households. Indirectly, we expect more than half a million animals in Pithoragarh District to benefit.
Did you know…The Khedain community in Pithoragarth is almost fully dependent on livestock for livelihood. They migrate to higher altitude pasture lands (locally called “Bhugyal”) along with their animals by walking for up to 10 days once every six months (April to September). While in the Bhugyal, they cultivate rajma and potato while the livestock graze on pasture lands. The harvest crops are then taken back from the upper hills to be sold. This disaster, however, has left some family members, along with their animals, still in the upper hills and unable to return back. Reports suggest that one person has lost 60 of his goats- the biggest single animal loss reported.