Goat Program Changes Household Roles in Zambia

Originally published on November 4, 2014.

In southern Zambia’s Kazungula District, Village Headman Njamba and his wife, Josephine Njamba, have developed a new household dynamic through goat production that is creating many benefits for their household. Living in Sikaunzwe, Njamba previously owned cattle and used to sell them, using the extra cash for what he wanted. Sometimes, that meant money for entertainment, which often meant enjoying a few drinks. “I could drink a whole ‘cow’ myself,” he says with a laugh.  
 
Village Headman Njamba and Josephine Njamba.
Headman Njamba and Josephine participated in the two-year Building Resiliency in Southern and Western Zambia Through Community-based Livestock Production and Marketing (ZCL) project, which introduced goat production to 964 households as a means for generating income in Kazungula and Sesheke districts. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Land O'Lakes International Development led efforts to revitalize and strengthen farming families that experienced devastation in recent years. The combined impact of droughts, floods from the nearby Zambezi River, and an epidemic of Contagious Bovine Pleural Pneumonia (CBPP) from 2006-09 wiped out most of the cattle population in these districts. During that time, households lost one of their major productive assets, and their main source of cash – cattle. 
 
To rebuild livelihood assets in these areas, ZCL provided each household with five hearty female goats that were less susceptible to CBPP. Land O’Lakes trained farmers to manage and market these goats for sale by working through 76 Goat Production and Marketing Groups (GPMG) based in communities like Sikaunzwe. Before the program, only men owned livestock and controlled the earnings. Because of ZCL’s targeting efforts, 62 percent of the new goat owners are women, and gender roles and norms are changing in these disaster-prone communities. 
 

Now, I am certain that we will always have enough money for the most important things: education and food. Children are getting an education, and people are not going hungry. It is good when women are empowered. Then the whole family is empowered.

Headman Njamba (ZCL client)

Josephine chairs the Sikaunzwe GPMG and cares for her grandson and an orphan girl. Both are attending school thanks to the earnings she has earned under the program. ZCL advised goat owners to use incomes from the sale of goats to pay for expenses that benefitted the entire household, such as school fees, food, hygiene products and medical care. Many women like Josephine continue to care for their children while holding leadership positions in goat production groups.
 
Sometimes Chief Njamba complains that his wife will not let him have a little money for entertainment. “One time she asked me to sell two goats. So, I took them to market and sold them,” he said. “When I returned, she made me provide her with a complete list of my expenses, and give her what was left over. When the total did not add up, she made me pay her back!” 
 
Chief Njamba readily admits that Josephine has more money than he does, and that she uses it to benefit the entire family: she pays for school fees, school supplies and uniforms, soap, and food when supplies run low. Although the household dynamic has changed, he is happy that the children in their home – and in the community – are all going to school now, and that hunger is no longer common in Sikaunzwe. When asked how she does such a good job of managing the money, Josephine proudly holds her head high and says, “I am empowered.”
 
By encouraging women to participate in ZCL, Land O'Lakes challenged the power relations within these communities, and changed the way that households use income. Most of the women who sold goats under the program were able to earn income and hold key positions in local groups for the first time in their lives. Land O'Lakes ensured that women could participate in the program by holding trainings and meetings at times and in locations that were convenient for women.  
 

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