Livestock keepers in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will be able to keep their animals healthy and safe from ongoing activity of volcano La Soufrière, thanks to a generous grant from the Government of Belgium.
Belgium’s contribution to the Anticipatory Action window of FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities allows the Organization to act quickly, releasing more than USD 100 000 to protect livestock keepers and their animals before the impact of volcano eruptions lead to a food crisis for vulnerable communities.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the southern section of a chain of volcanic islands, which comprise the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. For several months now, the alert level for La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent has been high. A series of anticipatory actions have already been developed in close collaboration with the Government to mitigate the potentially devastating impacts of an eruption on agriculture and other sectors. This includes the delivery of water tanks by FAO to be used in livestock evacuation centres.
On 9 April 2021, the warning signs proved right and a major explosive eruption occurred. The volcanic activity is likely to be followed by a sequence of further eruptions during the upcoming weeks. This could affect communities and livelihoods across the whole island, but particularly those in high-risk zones in proximity to the volcano.
Within the agriculture sector, livestock has been identified as the subsector likely to be most affected, according to the National Emergency Management Office and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour. This is due to the intensive animal husbandry on the northeastern end of the island, which is within the red danger zone where the risk is highest. Managing livestock before and during an explosive eruption is a major challenge, as it requires safe handling and transport of animals, emergency feeding and veterinary care, as well as management of biosecurity risks in the animal evacuation centres. The latter includes, for example, the risk of zoonotic and transboundary diseases.
Considering that the risk of further volcanic activity remains high, FAO and its partners are committed to keep delivering livelihood-saving anticipatory actions.
The project will support the Ministry of Agriculture of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to keep implementing anticipatory actions to protect livestock-based livelihoods.
The project will target the most vulnerable livestock farming households in the red and orange risk zones and at least 2 000 heads of livestock will be protected from the negative impacts of the explosive eruption. In addition to shelter and animal health support, FAO will also provide technical support to improve tagging and traceability of livestock.
FAO designed these anticipatory actions after a multi-step consultation process with the various departments within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and development partners. The latter include the National Emergency Management Organisation; the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Service; the Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlement, Land and Surveys, and Physical Planning; the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture; and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
The Government of Belgium has been a long-time and early supporter of FAO’s work on Anticipatory Action, an area of emergency programming, which is increasingly gaining attention in the humanitarian and development community for its use of early warning data to smartly intervene ahead of predictable crises.