Asia Pacific Regional Humanitarian Update

Situation Report
Taal Volcano
A man washes ash from his horse as the Taal Volcano erupts in January 2020 in the Philippines. (Photo: Jojo Rinoza/LIC/S)

FAO: New agreement to protect vulnerable family farmers and their farm animals from volcanic eruptions takes shape in the Asia-Pacific region

18/06/2020, Bangkok – While increasingly unpredictable, and seasonal, climate-related disasters continue to cause massive hardships for farmers and their animals in Asia and the Pacific, the world's most disaster-prone region, volcanic eruptions can cause catastrophe.

In particular, during the last two centuries, volcanic eruptions in rural areas of Indonesia and Philippines have resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of human lives, and untold numbers of farm animals. One eruption in the early 1800's, that initially was reported to have killed 10,000 people, also resulted in the deaths of 80,000 others who perished due to starvation.

Today, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Animal Protection signed a Letter of Agreement (LoA) which commits cooperation on the project 'Livestock emergency preparedness and response for areas at high risk of volcanic eruption'.

The project was launched last year by FAO and the United States Agency for International Development's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) with the aim to mitigate the devastating impact of unpredictable volcanic eruptions especially on poor communities, most of whom rely on food and agriculture for a living. Today's 'virtual' signing of the LoA sets work on course.

Protecting farmers and animals from the devastation of volcanic eruptions

"Since the emergence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) FAO has increasingly been involved in the management not only of animal diseases and emergencies but also in addressing threats to livestock during natural disasters. It is a great opportunity to work with World Animal Protection which has a long-standing experience in moving the world in protecting animals especially during disaster situations caused by volcano eruptions." said Katinka de Balogh, FAO Senior Animal Health and Production Officer.

The FAO-USAID/OFDA project will be implemented in Indonesia, Philippines and Vanuatu, some of the countries with the most active volcanoes in the world. From these case studies, a regional tool will be developed to assist all countries in planning how they may better prepare their rural communities to face such hazards.

Connected from Costa Rica, Gerardo Huertas, the Global Director of Animal In Disasters at World Animal Protection noted in his remarks "with nearly twenty volcano operations conducted in three continents we have been working with the UN and other global partners to recognize farm and working animals as vital part of the indicators the UN identified in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. This LoA is the reflection in the field of all our efforts and we are proud to make it happen with our FAO colleagues."

"This LoA provides for a new paradigm shift -- a big step in moving forward and introducing new ways of working and delivering the required results across the next sixteen months of the project," said FAO's Andrew Sobey, a Liaison and Operations Officer

"In times of crises, partnerships are especially important and FAO is committed to bringing together the best expertise in the world to support member states in preparedness and protect lives and livelihoods that depend on food and agriculture." added Allison Moore, FAO's Senior Field Programme Officer.