|Livestock Research for Rural Development 3 (3) 1991
Citation of this paper
The concept of cyclone shelters for livestock
A V S Reddy
National Institute of Rural Development Rajendra-Nagar, HYDERABAD 500030, India
[Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford, International Development Centre, Queen Elizabeth House, St Giles, Oxford]
Every year during the April-May period and during the September- December period, cyclonic situations set in to the Bay of Bengal. Every cyclone takes its toll of human and animal lives and damages private property in the form of houses and household effects, and public property including roads, buildings and irrigation tanks; many acres of crops get damaged and the fields sand-silted. The loss of livestock has serious consequences for the village communities.
To offset this situation, it is being increasingly felt that there is a need to provide community cattle shelters in about 200 coastal areas. It is proposed to construct cattle-shelters in association with fish-ponds. Of the ten acres acquired for each village, two acres would be used for constructing the cattle shelter and the remaining would be used for the formation of the fish tank. It is proposed that the earth excavated from the site of the proposed fish pond would be used for raising a platform up to a height of 5 to 6 feet. The remaining excavated earth would be used for elevating the bounds of the cattle shelter to the desired level.
Casurina and subabul (Leucaena leucocephala) trees would be planted in alternate rows at a distance of 2 m from plant to plant. In between the rows, Stylos hemata (a perennial leguminous fodder crop) could be grown to augment the fodder needs. This apart, it would be desirable to provide a casurina plantation on the entire shelter surface, covering the tank bounds. This would not only function as a wind-break, but also protect the animals in any likely deluge.
KEY WORDS: Cyclones, livestock, shelters, agroforestry
The east coast of India is very susceptible to cyclones and tidal waves. Four major states on the east coast are West Bengal, Grissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Among them, it is the state of Andhra Pradesh which has been most affected by cyclones and tidal waves in the last two decades. Andhra Pradesh State has a long coast line, extending over 1030 kms, traversing through nine districts. This coast line has the dubious distinction of being considered the most cyclone prone zone in India. In the 97 years from 1892 to 1989, there were as many as 67 cyclones.
Every year during the April-May period and during the September- December period, cyclonic situations set in to the Bay of Bengal. While every few years the cyclone mercifully passes away from the Andhra coast, of late, cyclones have been crossing the mainland more frequently. The cyclone storms are usually accompanied by tidal waves which, on occasions, enter the land up to 20 km. Heavy rains and winds with speeds exceeding 150 kmph prevail during the cyclone.
The intensity of the cyclone seems to be increasing with the passing years; in October 1949, the cyclone which affected Machilipatnam had wind velocities of the order of 100 kmph and tidal waves of 3-5 metres. The 1969 cyclone which affected Ongole town had higher wind velocities. The November 1977 cyclone which hit several districts was very severe, with wind speed nearing 200 kmph, accompanied by tidal waves of over 15 metres. This was considered to be the worst of the cyclones.
In May 1990, the latest cyclone which swept several districts had higher wind speeds, reaching 220-250 kmph. Every cyclone takes its toll of human and animal lives and damages private property in the form of houses and household effects, and public property including roads, buildings and irrigation tanks; many acres of crops get damaged and the fields sand-silted. The cyclone of 1977 took such a large toll of human lives (exceeding 10,000) that the Government was moved to take long-term measures. The cyclone shelters, numbering nearly five hundred which have been constructed in all the districts along the coast, came as great saviours of human life and the death toll was contained below 1,000 this time in spite of the higher severity of the cyclone. Unfortunately, cattle could not be protected in the same way.
Losses of livestock
In 1977, there was a heavy loss of livestock. The cyclone and tidal waves affected areas of Krishna and Guntur districts, which were littered with the carcasses of animals. Over 300,000 animals perished. The same story was repeated in successive cyclones, possibly with a lower level of animal fatalities.
The loss of livestock due to the May 1990 cyclonic storm and incessant rain was massive in the affected areas. A large number of cattle, sheep and goats were washed away and lost. This motivated us to adopt a strategy to save the livestock from the onslaught of cyclones and tidal surge. The details concerning the loss of livestock are presented in the following table:
|Table: Losses of Livestock in the May 1990 Cyclone
|S1 Name of
|value Rs. in
Source: Memorandum on cyclone damages, May 1990, Government of AP, Hyderabad (1 lakh = 100,000 Rupees)
As can be seen from the above, 23,728 cattle perished in the recent cyclone; the corresponding figure for the loss of sheep was 91764. The total estimated loss on this count comes to Rs. 11.71 crores. The loss thus resulted is enormous to the village community. Besides, this poses a great handicap to the farming community in their agricultural operations. Going by 1977 experience and of now, there are about 200 areas that are vulnerable to inundation. To offset this situation, it is being increasingly felt that there is a need to provide community cattle shelters in about 200 coastal areas.
The rural economy is very much linked to animal husbandry activities in this area; it occupies second place in importance, next only to agriculture. Although everybody realises the importance of animal husbandry, nothing is done to protect the livestock, apart from some replacement of losses. As a relief and rehabilitation measure, nobody seems to have thought of providing shelters for cattle. This appears to be for two reasons.
Firstly, if the cattle shelters are to be constructed with reinforced concrete structure to withstand winds of a high velocity and to ward off inundation, this would be a very costly proposition. In each case, one has to plan for a shelter to house one to two thousand animals.
Secondly, such huge structures, if constructed, cannot be put to proper use during normal times, and their maintenance would be a problem.
Innovation of a new concept
For quite some time I have been discussing with the local people, the animal husbandry experts and engineers as I was directly involved in the relief and rehabilitation and the reconstruction of the 1977 cyclone/tidal wave victims. We have realised, and it has been confirmed, that the animals usually do not die due to the rain but due to the high velocity winds and gales. There are examples of calves and lambs surviving the cyclone and tidal wave because they were amidst the bushes on high ground, as opposed to other animals dying in the open area a few yards away. This formed the basis of the current proposals.
As a result of my interaction not only with experts but also with the local people and farmers, a new type of design has been evolved in which there is no question of raising a huge reinforced concrete structure, etc. but only change of land use as explained below.
The project and its elements
Land acquisition: It is proposed to acquire 10 acres of land in each identified village for executing the project. Assuming that the land acquired would cost around Rs. 20,000 per acre, the total cost would come to Rs. 200,000, which would be borne by the State Government.
Construction of cattle-shelters and formation of fish-ponds: Of the ten acres acquired, two acres would be used for constructing the cattle shelter and the remaining would be used for the formation of the fish tank. It is proposed that the earth excavated from the site of the proposed fish pond would be used for raising a platform up to a height of 5 to 6 feet. The remaining excavated earth would be used for elevating the bounds of the cattle shelter to the desired level.
The total estimated cost of the proposed project would be Rs. 15 crores, covering 200 villages in all the nine coastal districts.
It is proposed to raise casurina and subabul (Leucaena leucocephala) plants in alternate rows at a distance of 2 m from plant to plant. In between the rows, Stylos hemata (a perennial leguminous fodder crop) could be grown to augment the fodder needs. This apart, it would be desirable to provide a casurina plantation on the entire shelter surface, covering the tank bounds. This would not only function as a wind-break, but also protect the animals in any likely deluge.
Maintenance of fish tanks and cattle-shelters
As referred to earlier, the entire investment will have to be met by the State Government. The likely income realised from the fish tank could be in the range of Rs. 70,000 to 80,000 @ Rs. 10,000 per acre after deducting the investment cost from the fish tank. Such income, if and when fully realised, would help meet the annual maintenance costs of cattle-shelters and fish tanks. The maintenance of this twin venture would be undertaken by the Gram Panchayats (village elected councils). The resultant surplus income, if any, would be used for community welfare. Hopefully, such a venture, if implemented successfully, would entice the villagers to take up this pisciculture in a big way.
Total cost estimates
The estimated costs of cyclone shelters for humans and livestock are as follows:
a) Cost of 848 cyclone shelters for humans Rs. 7298 lakhs
b) Cost of improvement of 828 cyclone shelters for humans Rs. 207 lakhs
c) Cost of 200 cyclone shelters for cattle with fish tanks Rs. 1500 lakhs
TOTAL Rs. 8915 lakhs
(1 lakh = 100,000 Rupees)
Advantages of this concept
1. In all these coastal areas pisciculture is proven to be more remunerative. An 8 acre fish tank produces about Rs. 80,000 income @ Rs. 10,000 per acre as against a maximum income of Rs. 2,000 from rice cultivation.
2. Pisciculture is less cyclone prone than agriculture unless there are high tidal waves.
3. No part of the land is wasted and even the two acres of cattle- shelter could be used as a fodder plot.
4. Maintenance is easy and it is within the knowledge of the rural people.
5. On the whole, this scheme is a unique one which is not only cost-effective but can also stand the test of benefit analysis.
6. In the entire scheme of cyclone mitigation measures, this is the only concept which offers not only protection but also improved income to the community.
This scheme was written as part of the project report submitted by the State of Andhra Pradesh to the World Bank, July 1990. After this concept of cattle-shelters was published in newspapers, several farmers came offering their land free of charge on the understanding that the fish tank excavated under this scheme should be given to them. In turn they would allow the cattle-shelter to be used by the entire community to protect their cattle during cyclones, etc.
Finally, it should be said that this concept of cattle shelters is a product of an interaction between the Administrator, the Expert and the native genius the farmer.
[More detailed plans and drawings of the fish tank/cattle shelters are available on request].
(Received July 1991)