Super Cyclone Pam dwarfs Vanuatu. With winds of up to 270 km/hr, the storm has devastated the country where a majority of the population's livelihood is dependent on subsistence farming. Image source: NASA
Our disaster response team is on the way to Vanuatu to help animals who've been injured or left without shelter after the category five storm has left Vanuatu reeling.
As the storm developed, we sent out emergency preparedness tips for animal owners to radio stations and newspapers across Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu and New Zealand. The storm is so big it has affected them all, with Vanuatu reportedly the worst affected. We know from experience that these messages can help people prepare themselves and their animals before a disaster and have a much better chance of surviving.
Now, as the extent of the animal and human needs becomes clearer, we're joining the international effort and will immediately begin helping animals. Our work will complement the humanitarian relief by protecting people's friends, and main source of livelihoods.
Just over a year ago, we were in Vanuatu following Cyclone Lusi, a much weaker but nonetheless terribly destructive storm. At the time, we discovered that a major problem for animals was getting veterinary care for wounds or illnesses that they sustained as a result of or made worse by Lusi.
Thanks to your support, we provided veterinary kits to each of the six provinces in Vanuatu. Our aim was to improve Vanuatu's ability to help animals in future disasters, and Cyclone Pam will be the first time that is put to a terrible test.
Most of Vanuatu's population is dependent on small farms as we saw during our 2014 response to Cyclone Lusi. Here, Dr. Naritsorn Pholperm and a local farmer talk about animal health and disaster preparedness. © World Animal Protection
In the capital city, Port Vila, we anticipate pets will need vet care, shelter and emergency feed. In more rural areas, we know that most farms would not be equipped for a disaster of this magnitude so, working with local vets and agriculture officials, we will go where the animal needs are greatest and focus our relief efforts there.
I'll have more updates for you from the field later this week.