This section intends to present the main outputs of the LEGS Project, namely the LEGS Handbook and the constantly updated website. The Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) assist people with managing and protecting their livestock during humanitarian crises. Take a look at the short video presenting the main tools and resources available on the website.

Waht is LEGS?

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 international 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 Overseas Development Institute and Vetwork UK. Funding for the LEGS Project came from a range of donors, including ECHO, 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.

Why is LEGS important?

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, 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, 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 in pastoral, farming and urban communities, covering vulnerabilities arising from climate change, conflict and other types of slow and rapid onset emergency.

LEGS Handbook Scope

LEGS starting point is the welfare of human beings. It covers all types of livestock, from small species to large animals, including animals used for transport or draught power. LEGS covers rural communities (farmers and pastoralists) as well as peri-urban and urban livestock keepers. LEGS also provides guidance on livestock kept by displaced people, including those living in camps. LEGS does not address the prevention or control of transboundary animal diseases because these are covered by other internationally accepted guidelines (i.e. FAO-EMPRES) Specific LEGS interventions include:
- Destocking
- Veterinary support
- Feed supplies
- Provision of water
- Livestock shelter and settlement
- Provision of livestock

There is increasing recognition that timely and appropriate livestock-based responses in crises can be both cost-effective and ultimately increase the positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of livestock keepers.


During disasters, the links between improvements in animal health and links to human health and nutrition have been increasingly recognized, and reviews have focused on the role of milk and milk products in the diet, particularly in improving the dietary quality for women and young children
There is growing evidence that livestock feeding support to key milk producing stock can reduce the number of young children in feeding centres during drought.
(Sadler et al., 2012)


For every $1 spent on commercial destocking in Kenya $390 of benefits (avoided aid and animal losses) are gained, while in Ethiopia the equivalent figure is $311
(Cabot Venton et al., 2012).

By using the LEGS approach, World Animal Protection was able to get a better understanding of the relationship between livestock and their owners. This enabled us to better meet the needs for both animal and owner and greatly increased the effectiveness of our response. The LEGS approach has also assisted us in our
effor ts to show others the impor tance of considering animals in disaster response and planning and the benefits of good animal welfare in protecting livestock based livelihoods (World Animal Protection Case Study – Flooding in Quang Binh Province Vietnam, Ian Dacre, March 2011, in Wallis and Watson 2013).

When the LEGS guidelines are followed rigorously in the Emergency Phase the impact is clearly felt and highly appreciated by communities and long term benefits reported. Community and other stakeholder involvement in livestock-based emergency interventions improves local capacity and enhances ownership and sustainability of the interventions. Sourcing pasture locally triggers enterprise around fodder. Preservation of key breeding stock enables rapid regeneration of herds.
Findings of a study on the effectiveness of LEGS in Kenya and Ethiopia (Coupe and Kisiangani, 2013).

Additional resources

LEGS approach extended presentation
LEGS Manual available in different languages here
The LEGS project: The first 10 years, 2005 – 2015
LEGS Website: available in English, French and Spanish
Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS): launch of the 2nd edition handbook
FAO Emergency Prevention System for Animal Health (EMPRES)
Coupe, S. and E. Kisiangani (2013): Study Report on the Effectiveness of the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS) in Ethiopia and Kenya. Nairobi: FAO, Vetwork UK and ECHO, Nairobi.
Sadler, K., E. Mitchard, A. Abdi, Y. Shiferaw, G. Bekel and A. Catley (2012) Milk Matters: The impact of dry season livestock support on milk supply and child nutrition in Somali Region, Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University and Save the Children.
Wallis, W. and C. Watson (2013): Livelihoods Standards in Humanitarian Practice: The Case of Sphere Companion Standards Minimum Economic Recovery Standards (MERS) and Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS): Paper presented to the World Conference on Humanitarian Studies, Istanbul, October 24th 2013.

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