A Need for Adequate Nourishment
About 47% of the Kenyan population does not have reliable access to food resources to adequately meet their daily needs. About 31% of children under five years of age have stunted growth, and about 20% are underweight – with rates 10% higher in rural areas than in urban areas. This situation is aggravated by the fact that among both adults and children, HIV/AIDS compromises the immune system, resulting in increased susceptibility to severe illness.
Malnutrition exacerbates the effects of HIV, reducing life expectancy and the quality of life. Among many other programs, our Kenyan partner KEDHAP (Kenya Economic Development & Human Advancement Project) attempts to develop the community through projects that focus on Food Security and Income Generating Activities. This is particularly significant for vulnerable groups such as widows, orphans and PLWAs (People Living With HIV/AIDS).
We ‘GOAT’ this!
Goats are versatile animals that are raised for a variety of reasons. Most goat breeds demand less attention and management. They are quite easy to look after, that even older people, women and children may do so. In addition, goats require less food, water, and smaller housing, and are generally hardier than dairy cows. Compared to cows’ milk, goats’ milk is more nutritionally dense, high in digestible protein, and higher in vitamin A and calcium. They reproduce quickly and reach maturity in a shorter period.
Did You Know?
A good goat house should be rain and damp proof, well ventilated, free from direct wind, and free from sharp objects that might cut the goat. It should keep the goat safe from pests and wild animals. It is also important to provide an outside space for exercise, play, and exposure to the sun during the day. Houses can be built with local materials such as cut-off planks and should be raised at least 1.5 feet from the ground with small gaps about half an inch wide between the planks or rafters. The gaps must not be large enough for the goat’s or kid’s feet to slip through as this can cause serious injury.
Got 🐐 MILK? 🥛We do!
A key objective of KEDHAP’s Dairy Goat Project is assisting with nutritional and financial stability for widows, orphans, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2006, a donation from Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) allowed KEDHAP to provide 98 widows and other extended family members who were caring for HIV/AIDS orphans, with one pair of local goats each. The following year, support from the Jubilee Charitable Trust and the J Neysmith Trust (both based in Ontario) allowed KEDHAP to establish its own Dairy Goat Project. KEDHAP was able to conduct training and proper sensitization for the beneficiaries, on Dairy Goat Farming and the model that KEDHAP intended to adopt.
Simple Processes to facilitate Women’s Empowerment
To begin, the original recipients of local goats were organized into four ‘clusters’ of between 20 and 25 widows. A demonstration farm was established within each cluster at a member’s home, and four purebred ‘does’ and two ‘bucks’ were distributed among the members. To have a sense of ownership in the project, members were made responsible for the construction (labour and materials) of the goat housing units. To ensure that all the members benefit from the scheme, each member returns the first female kid from each purebred doe to KEDHAP, to be given to another member of the cluster. The goat milk is consumed by the member’s family, and any surplus is sold to generate income to buy food, medication, and other necessities. The project is now fully sustainable, making a significant difference in the health and economics of the impacted communities.
KEDHAP places the women into groups or ‘clusters’ and provides training to all the group members on dairy goat husbandry, including feeding, housing, breeding, disease, and pest control. Each group meets regularly for accountability to plan, review their activities and discuss problems. One widow was chosen to receive several months of training as a para-vet, and she now works with the KEDHAP staff to provide routine prophylactic veterinary care and advice for the goats belonging to each cluster.
Sustainable Practices to Benefit the Community
Since 2009, the Dairy Goat Project has expanded within the Kisumu and South Nandi Counties. Sixteen clusters have been established, with an average membership of 50 people per cluster. The Project is being carefully monitored and evaluated to make it replicable in other locations, and by other agencies.
Dairy goats improve household nutrition and can also provide a source of income. In addition to the purebred dairy goats, group members and other local farmers may mate their local goats with the purebred bucks to ‘upgrade’ the offspring to milk-producing goats. After breeding the offspring, a farmer can get up to 2 litres of milk per day! The goat droppings can also be used as manure to grow food crops.
The Dairy Goat Project has also empowered widows, who are the experts on dairy goat husbandry in their local areas and has pioneered the occupation of a female para-vet, an occupation traditionally reserved for men. In addition, expansion from the Luo-dominated Kisumu County into the Kalenjin-dominated South Nandi County has allowed the project to act as a tool for peacebuilding among the different ethnic groups living in the border regions, who previously engaged in ethnic violence.
Be Part of the Economic Revolution!
The social and economic impact has been dramatic! Thanks to your generous donations, many widows who are now empowered and experts in goat farming can feed their families. In addition, the surplus milk is sold, providing a source of income to buy food, medication, and other necessities. KEDHAP’s approach and model has been so successful that there are now 16 groups established in western Kenya, impacting more than 800 women! The project has become a model for other locations and agencies to replicate.