Livestock evacuation is closely related to human evacuation efforts considering that livestock are a valuable livelihood asset, therefore, preparing a livestock evacuation route, in particular, can reduce human and animal casualties as well as economic losses, according to a joint press release issued by the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB), the Ministry of Agriculture, and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Representative in Indonesia.
On Tuesday, the livestock evacuation drill was made a part of activities for the first time on National Disaster Preparedness Day, which has been observed every April 26 since 2017, the statement said.
“Indonesia’s disaster preparedness has improved significantly in saving the lives of the people. However, in various disaster incidents, the human evacuation process is often hampered by the community, especially farmers who are reluctant to evacuate if they have to leave their livestock, which are valuable livelihood assets,” head of BNPB, Suharyanto, said.
“This can increase the risk of fatalities and economic losses, so the government needs to develop a special strategy to handle it,” he added.
BNPB recorded 2,800 cattle deaths and 332 human fatalities during the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi.
Around 12.4 percent of the total economic losses of Rp4.23 trillion were reported by small and medium-sized businesses, including those in the agriculture and livestock sectors, according to BNPB.
Besides, the agency recorded at least 156 volcanic eruptions across Indonesia between 2010 and 2020, or an average of 15 eruptions a year.
Director general of livestock and animal health services of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Nasrullah, said that the ministry supports efforts to integrate livestock evacuation with disaster management.
MoA is aware that Indonesia has a high risk of volcanic disasters since this is related to more than 1.2 million Indonesians living around volcanic areas who make a living from agriculture and livestock, especially small-scale family farmers, he added.
For this reason, Nasrullah emphasized that attention also needs to be paid to livestock and they need to be handled properly in the event of a disaster.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, together with BNPB and local governments, will prepare guidelines for handling livestock during volcanic disasters, which will include arrangements for livestock evacuation and contingency plans,” he informed.
“It is hoped that the guidelines will complement the evacuation guidelines for humans, so that the community can have safety guarantees in the event of a disaster, both for themselves and their livestock as the main source of livelihood for families in rural areas,” Nasrullah added.
“The purpose of this guideline is to reduce risks and losses due to volcanic disasters. The government would like people living in disaster-prone areas to remain safe and prosperous,” he said.
Meanwhile, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for Indonesia and Timor Leste, Rajendra Aryal, said that the FAO is working closely with BNPB and the Ministry of Agriculture to protect farmers from losses during volcanic disasters.
“We are providing necessary technical support according to the Sendai Framework, a global framework for disaster risk reduction, to conduct studies and develop guidelines for handling livestock, including livestock evacuation, capacity building, and response plans, that led to today’s evacuation drill,” Aryal remarked.
“As the chair of the G20 and the host of the upcoming Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that will be held in Bali this May, disaster management efforts in Indonesia can serve as an example to the world. Situated in the Ring of Fire that is prone to disasters, with its large population, good experiences from Indonesia can serve as good practices to the rest of the world,” he added.