We awoke to receive word our departure would be delayed due to unexpected brush fires that affected one of our scheduled visits during the evening. As if these families don’t have enough challenges. We were asked to delay our arrival to allow time for the community members to rebuild a structure for the forthcoming celebrations.
Our day took us to visit several participants of the Go Women Go Women’s Club located in the Kanyenda Community of the Copper belt. The women in this project came together to address challenges like: running out of maize before the next harvest period, children not completing school due to distance, and inadequate sources of income. Of the three families visited, with 7-9 children on average, not one child had completed high school! For income, many rely on burning wood to create charcoal and selling it on the roadside.
Twenty families of the Go Women Go Women’s Club will be receiving 140 meat goats over the next few days. It was evident the women had gone to tremendous effort in preparation to receive the goats. Farmers had built raised goat houses (as shown to the left), constructed sanitary facilities and formed project committees (such as finance, animal health and environmental management). The training and provision of other services will continue throughout the length of this project and will be expected to be transferred to neighboring communities as part of the passing of the gift ceremony.
A key objective of this Elanco/Heifer International project is that a minimum of 80 percent of the 6,210 recipient families attain food security and improved access to animal protein and food crops by 2014. But that is only part of the story. This project is unique because it is not just about the introduction of livestock—goats in the case of today’s visit. Household incomes will be increased at least 50 percent of current level by 2014. Access to improved sanitation, health and hygiene practices, and caring for the environment are also critical components. Improved nutrition and health status will also be a focus. All these are necessary to ensure these individuals are taken out of poverty and hunger—in a sustainable model. This interdisciplinary approach is needed and was so evident during our visits.
The placement of goats today was just the beginning. With the pride of ownership, and the tools provided, these people will one day be able to put food on their table, build better housing, take their children to school and contribute to the development of their communities. The road seems long, and it is not without challenges, but their desire to improve their livelihoods will drive this to succeed.