LEGS - Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards

Background to LEGS

The Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) project exists to improve the quality and accoutability of responses to emergency situations that affect communities dependent on livestock for their livelihoods. LEGS originated in early 2000 when various agencies and individuals involved in livestock relief work began to question the quality and professionalism of their interventions. For example, inputs such as emergency veterinary care often arrived too late to be of any value and when delivered to people free-of-charge, undermined local service providers. In these situations, although some animals may have been saved in the short-term, the capacity of local services to provide more long-term support was damaged by the relief response. These kinds of problems were compounded because donors and NGOs often lacked in-house livestock expertise and decisions on livestock programming were made without professional input.

Over time, these concerns were linked to current thinking on livelihoods and the concept of ‘saving lives and livelihoods’. Some agencies started to explore ways to deliver emergency livestock de-stocking programmes using local traders. Others began to deliver emergency veterinary care through the private sector. The overall aim had to be to protect the welfare of the livestock owners, the livestock themselves, the livelihood system within which they exist together with the natural resource base.

Recently, climate change appears to be resulting in more frequent and diverse types of disaster. Especially vulnerable are livestock-dependent communities in fragile arid and semi-arid environments who are experiencing increasing drought followed by severe flooding.

From a global perspective, the most pressing need is to improve relief interventions aimed at livestock for communities who rely heavily on livestock for their social and economic well-being. LEGS covers livestock interventions in these usually pastoral areas, but also addresses livestock support to settled farming communities and livestock kept by people in urban areas.

The LEGS process has drawn together lessons and experiences from across the range of livestock owning communities, covering slow and rapid onset emergencies, to produce a single set of international standards and guidelines for livestock emergency interventions.

Vetwork UK's role

Vetwork UK has been involved with LEGS since LEGS was first conceived and is currently providing day-to-day management and administrative support to the project. For full information on LEGS, visit the LEGS website

Vetwork UK is responsible for the coordination of LEGS, including sourcing and managing funds, all LEGS activities and contracting and managing the key people who make LEGS happen: a coordinator, an administrator, a communications officer and a team of humanitarian and livestock specialists, who have developed the training materials and deliver the regional LEGS Training of Trainer (ToT) courses in English, Spanish and French around the world since 2010.  Vetwork UK organises the LEGS ToTs and the graduates of these courses go on to roll out the three day LEGS training course in their own countries and organisations.  Vetwork UK also contracts consultants to work on technical briefing papers for the LEGS Steering Group.  These briefing papers fed in to the process of revising the LEGS handbook, which contains the standards and guidelines, to produce a 2nd edition.  The papers  are available on the website. The LEGS handbook has been translated into French, Spanish, Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese and Mongolian.



Community level animal health and welfare services