About LEGS

What is the LEGS Project?

The LEGS Project is an independent initiative that aims to improve the quality and livelihoods impact of livestock-related projects in humanitarian situations.

The key activity of the LEGS Project is the production and dissemination of the LEGS Handbook, supported by a global training programme and other awareness raising activities. The LEGS Handbook was produced through a broad consultation process, drawing on good practice worldwide. The Handbook provides standards and guidelines for appropriate and timely livestock-based livelihoods responses in emergencies, using a participatory and evidence-based approach. The LEGS Handbook is a companion to the Sphere Handbook.

Established in 2005, the LEGS Project is overseen by a Steering Group of individuals from the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, the World Society for the Protection of Animals, and Vetwork UK. Funding for the LEGS Project comes from a range of donors and through in-kind contributions, but with all donor support provided on the condition that LEGS remains independent. LEGS activities are coordinated by Vetwork UK.

How did the LEGS Project start?

From early 2000, 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 arrive too late to be of any value and when delivered to people free-of-charge, undermine 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 is damaged by the relief response. These kinds of problems are compounded because donors and NGOs often lack in-house livestock expertise and decisions on livestock programming are 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 LEGS process brought these and other initiatives together to produce a single set of international standards and guidelines for livestock emergency interventions. From a global perspective, the most pressing need is to improve livestock relief programming with communities who rely heavily on livestock for their social and economic well-being. LEGS covers livestock interventions in these areas, but also addresses livestock support to settled farming communities and livestock kept by people in urban areas.

Climate change is 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. LEGS addresses these and other types of slow and rapid onset emergency, as well as those compounded by conflict.

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