One of the programs that MCC sponsors here in Kenya is a program we call Goat Stocking. That is a bit of a misnomer, as the program is much more than goat stocking. Let us describe it, beginning with some background.
Over the past dozen or more years, MCC has been providing some relief aid to Maasai households as they are impacted by drought. This food aid has been delivered in the form of “food for work” where people able to work in the community, do community projects such as road repair, installing gabions in ditches, fixing fence, etc. and in return these households are provided food rations for their households. Those that are too old or sick to work are provided food aid without having to work.
The results of these previous programs indeed assist people to survive the then current drought but it does not prepare them well for the next drought. Therefore, in addition to assisting the Maasai to upgrade livestock, and do some new forms of agriculture (i.e. conservation farming), we, along with our partners, wanted to design a program to assist Maasai families to address root causes. While we cannot change the fact that droughts occur regularly, we can try and assist Maasai households to be better prepared to withstand the next drought. One of our service workers calls this “addressing the problem rather than just giving a tablet to make the symptoms go away”. One of the ideas to accomplish this, is the Goat Stocking project.
The components of the program are:
- Creation, registration and training of Self Help Groups (SHG). SHGs have been used successfully in other parts of Kenya enabling groups to assist each other.
- Demonstration, for at least 6 months, that groups can organize themselves, function together and do some community projects such as building latrines, installing water catchment tanks/gutters, etc.
- Collecting some funds enabling the group to provide 10% of the cost of the first goat for each SHG household. We subsidize this by providing 90% of the first goat per household. Subsequent goats (to a maximum of 5 per household) are subsidized to a lesser amount (87.5%, 85%, 82.5%, 80%). The idea behind the 5 goats per household is that this provides sufficient milk for the household, and hopefully provides the basis for building assets of the family.
- They withstand drought conditions much better than livestock.
- Traditionally, goats are more the domain of the woman and are cared for by women and children. (note the number of women who are receiving goats).
- Milk for domestic use.
- Goats don’t need to be taken to faraway places in search of grass. They manage to subsist on the local vegetation, even in times of drought.
After 6 months of demonstrated working together, we were invited to witness the first goat distribution for several SHGs. Each working SHG consists of approximate 15 members and the total of members gathered on Monday, March 1st was 112.
While sitting near a tree, in the heat, wind and dust, the mandatory speeches began. Then the distribution started. Half of the members (56) would receive two goats each with the remainder to receive their two goats each within a week. Provisioning of the goats had been tendered and all of the goats inspected the previous day by a veterinarian to make sure all goats were healthy. All goats were labeled with a number on their back. Each of the beneficiaries chose their number from a jar which then determined which goats they received. This ensured that there would not be conflict between members as they chose goats. What fun to watch as five beneficiaries at a time came into the pen that held all the goats, and then tried to find their goats. What joy on their faces, and thanks expressed. It is days like this that we really enjoy.
Once all the goats were distributed, we shared a cup of tea and some slices of bread with the partner organization called Maasai Integrated Development Initiatives (MIDI). We look forward to seeing the results of this project. In total, we hope to distribute 4,000 goats to Maasai households, hopefully to enable them to withstand the current and future droughts.
We are aware that some have donated to this project specifically. Thank you, on behalf of the Maasai. This two year project is fully subscribed.