Goats

3 January 2012

Today we visited the village goat project, which was so cool, because here I was, seeing first-hand the goats the Heifer distributes (through KEDA, in this case), just like the ones we used to get for Christmas! It works like this: village committees determine who is most in need of the goats. Those people are then trained in how to care for the animal, how to build a shelter for it, and the conditions of receiving the goat. All the shelters are the same design, with a raised part with little stalls and a slat floor through which the dung falls to be collected for fertilizer. Then a ramp down to a small yard area, where they have access to water and fodder. The buildings are mostly made of local materials as well a corrugated metal roof, often also donated by KEDA. The design is intended to create maximum efficiency in caring for the animals. The person is required to breed the female three times to get kids to give away to the neighbors and then after that, the person owns that goat. For a male it is once. KEDA is responsible for ensuring that the conditions are met and the goat isn’t just immediately slaughtered and sold. Each person we visited had their own story.

First, we visited an old man who appeared to be quite poor. He had been given a male and a female. He had half a dozen or so goats now, and had given some to neighbors. He doesn’t use the goats for much commercial use, mostly household use.

Second was a woman who already had a female, and was given a male for breeding. So instead of having just one goat, she was now able to have many goats, for giving away or milking or whatever. At this point, she doesn’t make money from them.

The third woman had been given a female, but it died. So she was given a new female but no male. However, KEDA has a community owned male that they lend out for breeding.

The fourth person is  a widow. She only had daughters and they are all married, away from home, so she’s on her own. Her goat is named Esther. She got her as a kid from KEDA, bred her with the KEDA male, and Esther is now pregnant! The widow would like to have three or four goats eventually in order to make some money from them, as she thinks they will be more lucrative than the cow. This woman also has a KEDA-built efficiency stove, which helps the environment by using less firewood. The woman has been modifying it though, making it better, and has plans to continue to modify it!

The fifth woman was given a goat because she was taking care of an orphan, and the goat was given to help her support the orphan. She received a female and bred it with the KEDA male.  She now gets one litre of milk per day from the female. She needs to breed her one more time and then the goat will belong to her.  She also has one that was already hers.

The sixth woman’s husband isn’t interested in the goats projects, but Mr. Mlay told her that when she starts making money from them, she can point out to her husband the money they’re generating and maybe he will get more involved.

The seventh and final woman has formed a group with other people in the area for support and discussion of the project. They provide moral support to people who don’t have much and discuss the goat project. They meet once a week. She was given a goat by KEDA, which also donated the corrugated metal for the roof as well as the concrete for the yard floor and water trough.

So that was that. Milk is for home consumption, but selling a goat brings in a lot of money, which can make a significant contribution to household nutrition and/or the family’s ability to pay secondary school fees. A real impact. Also, I think I would like to have goats!
Helped with dinner, sort of. Mostly just watched. It’s nice to be in the kitchen with Mrs Mlay rather than sitting in my room alone, especially after dark.

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