Livestock Programmes – A Means of Protecting Livelihoods and Empowering Women in East Africa

 

Livestock are valuable assets for the rural poor and are critical in supporting their livelihoods as a source of income and food security. As cattle farming continues to depreciate as herds are lost to conflict, lack of available fodder, and desertification caused by environmental breakdown, Vita is introducing new camel breeding, goat rearing and cow fattening programmes that diversify incomes, respond to the impacts of climate change and provide pastoralists with a secure livelihood.

Together with its partners, Vita is engaged in livestock breed improvement, provision of livestock fodder and access to water, rangeland rehabilitation, providing access to veterinary services and capacity building for co-operatives, dairy farmers and local government.

Specific objectives of Vita’s actions include:

i) Improving the knowledge and management capacity of model dairy farmers through experience sharing visits to Ireland 

ii) Transfer, sharing and dissemination of new technology and knowledge to farmers through the adoption of ‘group technology circles’

iii) Transfer of practical knowledge from Irish dairy farm specialists to model small-scale and medium-scale dairy farmers and senior and junior dairy farm experts.

 

Naselegn Loseligna – From Poverty to Prosperity

In the almost barren Gamo Gofa region of Southern Ethiopia, Naselegn Loseligna has experienced first-hand the hardships of being a widow. A mother of eight children, her husband died several years ago, leaving Naselegn without a man to give her vital status and a stable income to feed her children. Without livestock, access to crops and now without a husband, she was rendered worthless. Vita’s goat-rearing programme helped to change this.

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Ngangati’s Camels have Transformed his Future

In the Addo village of the Dassenech district in Ethiopia’s South Omo Zone, Ngangati Kabir lives with his wife and four children. In his late thirties, he joined Vita’s RESULT/RESET II project which, in collaboration with the EU aims to enhance the incomes and livelihoods of pastoralists in the region who are particularly vulnerable to poverty and climate change. As cattle farming continues to depreciate as herds are lost to conflict, lack of available fodder, and desertification caused by environmental breakdown, Ngangati’s livelihood was severely under threat. Vita’s camel breeding programme aimed to change this. 

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Onaway and Vita – finding solutions for climate-affected tribesmen in South Omo, Ethiopia

“I want to stay here, with my cattle and my family,” so says Akula, the tribal leader of this Dassanech village on the banks of South Omo, in the southernmost tip of Ethiopia. Akalu knows he is one of the lucky ones. The Dassenach people are traditionally pastoralists, rearing and following their cattle across this challenging, desert-like sliver of land in the delta area of the Omo River where it meets Lake Turkana, on the border with Kenya. They bring their homes with them, small egg-shaped huts that dismantle easily and can fit in a large box tied to the back of a donkey during migrations.

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“She Works Harder Than a Man!” – Meet Lula, Eritrea’s Dairy Queen

This is Lula, a remarkable dairy farmer from Adigheda, a small village about two hours west of Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. She is pictured with her daughter, Fana, who has just started college and her son, Thomas, who is still in high school. Five years ago Lula was desperate; newly-divorced with no source of income, not enough food, and a seemingly hopeless future. But now Lula is so highly regarded in her village for her skills and work ethic that the village administrator has bestowed on her his highest compliment – he says she “works harder than a man!”

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Goat-Rearing for Resilience, Independence and Equality

“Finance was my major problem. I live under saviour poverty. I don’t have any money to buy a goat.” In Nyangatom in the South Omo Zone, it is hard for families to make a living on which they can survive. Vita’s RESULT/RESET II project in conjunction with the EU aims to combat this by strengthening community resilience with sustainable livelihoods. Nyafera Nyaguam, a 39-year-old mother of nine living in the remote kebele of Napusumuruya, was one woman to receive support from this project. With four sons and five daughters to feed and care for, Nyafera was struggling to make ends meet. She said that her lack of income made it impossible to lift her family out of poverty.

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How Vita’s Goat-Rearing Programme is Giving Dobo Moti Dayina Income, Independence, and a Brighter Future

Livestock are valuable assets for the rural poor and are critical in supporting their livelihoods as a source of income and food security. This is particularly true in Ethiopia’s South Omo Zone, where the Hamer people, a semi-nomadic pastoralist community, rely on livestock for basic survival. Climate change and increased conflict over subsequent dwindling herds, threatens this. Empowering women made vulnerable through the loss of their spouses is vital in ensuring the poorest of the poor receive the support and resources they need to survive  – read Dobo’s story here.

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