Millions of surviving animals now face severe feed shortages, threatening generations of Pakistan's livestock, F.A.O. estimates. Many animals died because people had to leave them behind when they were rescued by the Pakistan military and other rescue services.
"You can put chickens, goats and sheep in the boat and take them with you, but you can't take a buffalo or a cow," said Simon Mack, chief, F.A.O. Livestock Production Systems Branch. "In almost every picture you see of flood victims being rescued, someone is clutching a goat or a chicken."
Flood victims in the Sindh province are turning up at concentration points with large numbers of animals, F.A.O. field staff said.
Floods have affected the most densely populated livestock areas in Pakistan. Livestock makes up about half of agricultural G.D.P.
"Livestock in this country are the poor people's mobile A.T.M.," said David Doolan, senior F.A.O. officer, in charge of F.A.O. programs in Pakistan. "In good times, people build up their herds and in bad times, they sell livestock to generate cash. Every animal we save is a productive asset that poor families can use to rebuild their lives when the floods finally pass."
The first priority and challenge is to get feed to animals that have survived since much of the country's traditional animal feed — straw and forage — has been lost in the floods. For buffalo and cattle, it is essential to enable the herds to rebuild quickly during the next breeding season. It is also imperative to get medicine to animals that have fallen weak or sick because of the disaster.
The United Nations has asked for $5.7 million in emergency assistance for livestock and F.A.O. has mobilized $1.4 million of funds for the procurement of feedstuff and for animal health vaccines. F.A.O. will be asking for more money for this sector once the full scale of needs is clear.
"We are still trying to get a feel of how much feed is available in country as much of it has been destroyed. Then we have to transport the feed which is also challenging with so much of the infrastructure damaged" Mack said.
Where straw and fodder are available, it can be supplemented with multi-nutrient feeding blocks which are produced in Pakistan. Animals can also be fed cereal grains, pulses and by-products — such as bran — but these are also in high demand to feed the human victims of the flood.