Prior to attending the UN Small Island Developing States conference in Samoa, I had not put much thought into what happens to animals in disasters. Like many of us in New Zealand, I keep cat food in my emergency survival kit, but had never considered the effects of disasters on animals other than the family pet. However, in vulnerable communities disasters can cause widespread loss of animals, which then devastates the communities and their livelihoods.
My interest in disaster management stems from a board game we had when I was a child. The Red Cross Survival Kit game saw players collecting survival kit items as they went around the board; a torch, radio, batteries, tinned food and so on. My sister and I played this game over and over with various family members and babysitters. The Survival Kit game sparked a passion for disaster preparedness that has continued until today.