More than 4,300 animals have been treated in northeastern Haiti at mobile clinics set up by Heifer International and the Ministry of Agriculture in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Teams are preparing to care for more livestock as Hurricane Maria threatens the country.
Natural disasters can be just as hard on livestock as they are on people, and many animals have been left injured, stressed or infected with parasites after the storm.
“The resiliency of rural communities – their ability to bounce back from disasters – is closely tied to the health and well-being of their livestock – which often serve as emergency funds and savings accounts for small-scale farmers,” said Hervil Cherubin, country director for Heifer in Haiti.
As Irma churned toward Haiti, a group of veterinary technicians – trained by Heifer and Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture – began preparing to treat the livestock that survived the hurricane. Warning messages were sent via mobile phone and social media, advising farmers how to protect their animals.
After the storm, the veterinary technicians set up mobile clinics in five communities in the northeast: Dumas, Ouanaminthe, Ferrier, Malfety and Grand Bassin. They treated 4,323 animals, mostly cattle, goats, pigs, donkeys and horses. Some dogs and cats also received care.
“The children are always the most excited about helping the veterinary technicians because of the opportunity to be part of such a community event,” Cherubin said. “It’s also an opportunity to contribute to the protection of the family assets. They already know that their school tuition might be paid by one of their goats.”
Haiti didn’t suffer a direct hit from Irma as it did one year ago when Hurricane Matthew devastated the country. After Matthew, Heifer provided the same kind of emergency veterinary care in six different regions, treating 46,191 animals representing US$5.5 million in assets for 12,117 families.