CAP urges inclusion of animals in Malaysia's disaster response plans

03 Jan 2024 02:59pm
Pix for illustration purpose only (Inset: Mohideen)
Pix for illustration purpose only (Inset: Mohideen)

GEORGE TOWN - The Penang Consumer Association (CAP) is calling for the inclusion of domestic and farm animals in the country's natural disaster emergency plans, highlighting their vulnerability during floods and other disasters.

Its President Mohideen Abdul Kader said that livestock were among the most affected victims during disasters, especially floods.

He said floods were the most frequent weather-related disasters in the country, causing severe destruction and resulting in the loss of lives, livestock, crops, and property damage.

"In recent decades, this has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change worldwide.

"The recurring flood conditions in Malaysia are becoming increasingly worse.

"If a flood occurs, there are no precautionary measures for safety provided to protect or facilitate the transfer of livestock," he said in a statement earlier today.

Mohideen also revealed that the Statistics Department reported a loss of RM36.9 million to the livestock sector in 2022 due to natural disasters.

"Farmers who rely on their livelihoods on farming will be severely affected when disasters strike because animals are least prioritised in disaster management.

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"This causes economic and livestock losses.

"Steps need to be taken to reduce losses in livestock and emergency preparedness is crucial for the welfare of animals and business continuity.

"Early planning helps make better decisions to assist and protect these animals before and during disasters," he said.

He noted that considering the losses involving livestock, the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry (KPKM) and the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) are responsible for the welfare and health of farm animals nationwide.

"The relevant ministry should play a proactive role in managing animal risks during disasters.

"Animals trapped in floods often suffer stress, shock, body injuries, blood loss, dehydration, and eventually death.

"An effective approach requires more than just rescuing animals during emergencies.

"If emergency aid is not provided, these animals may die due to a lack of food and water, nutrient deficiency and flood-related diseases," he said.

He stressed that the ministry and veterinary authorities, equipped with knowledge, tools, and facilities, need to establish immediate animal treatment and rescue centres in affected areas.

"Collaborating with community aid, volunteer organisations, and non-governmental animal welfare organisations can be coordinated with the assistance of government agencies.

"Another issue is the need to remove injured animals for treatment because animals that die in flood areas can pose a threat to public health if not disposed of promptly," he said.

He stated that KPKM and DVS need to seriously consider implementing policies and strategies to reduce risks and minimise the impact of disasters on animals.

"Disaster risk reduction is an action for the future, and DVS must collaborate with international animal welfare organisations to ensure the safety of pets and livestock.

"Malaysia needs a strategy and policy to enhance its knowledge in responsive animal farming," he added.