6 September 2023

Brooke urges Central America governments to take One Health approach to El Niño preparations

A horse carries firewood in Guatemala. Credit Enrique Urdaneta/Brooke.

The Latin America and Caribbean branch of international working horse and donkey charity Brooke (BLAC) has written to governments including the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, and organisations including the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) urging them to include people, animals and the environment in preparation plans for the El Niño weather phenomenon.

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the warming of ocean surface temperatures that occurs every two to seven years. It typically causes a surge in global temperatures and disruptive weather, with countries close to the pacific most strongly affected.

An El Niño event can last for nine to 12 months, bringing increased heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods to different regions. All of which can have disastrous impacts for communities and working animals.

Brooke warns that El Niño also increases the risk of animal diseases and poor welfare, as well as zoonotic diseases that present a threat to human health.

Governments can prepare for the weather event by ensuring that experts from across the animal and human health sectors are included in disaster risk management planning. They must also strengthen animal health surveillance to detect changes in the animal population, and improve access to animal health services and medicines to reduce the risk of disease spread in the long term.

BLAC works in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras, where there are over 325,000 working equines. These animals play an important role in agriculture and transport and are essential to the livelihoods of many people.

Read the letter 218.02 KB