Goats of Hope

Originally published on November 7, 2014.

Between 2005 and 2006, people in Njamba village of Kazungula district in Southern Zambia experienced severe alternating drought and floods. The situation was further exacerbated by the breakout of the contagious bovine plural pneumonia (CBPP), a killer cattle disease. The impact of these shocks was devastating on the local livelihood. Fifty (50) inhabitants were affected in this village. According to Mr. Njamba, the Village Headman, over 300 heads of cattle died; crops were destroyed and people became hopeless.

Mr. Njamba recounts: “I personally had 150 cattle and I lost them all through disease. Government came in and compensated us to some extent, but all income raised was used to meet daily needs like food, medicals, school fees and clothing, but not for long. In a few years we were near destitute barely surviving on food relief and selling thatching grass.”
This situation was not unique to this village in located Sikaunzwe area; thousands of people in Kazungula as well as in Sesheke district in Western province lost their source of livelihoods within a short period of time.
In 2010, Land O’Lakes initiated emergence activities as a response to these disasters; the project “Building Resilience of Vulnerable Households in Kazungula & Sesheke District by Restoring their Livestock Production Capacity & Livelihood Asset Base” (ZCL) was born. The project is supported by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the United States Government (USG). Initially, it was an 18-months project but extended in late 2011 for another 18 months. The project’s mission was disaster risk reduction and its immediate purpose is to rebuild the resilience of the target community through goat restocking and marketing. In many communities in these two districts, like Njamba village, the goat was ‘alien’. People in these districts were prominently pastoralists in terms of cattle rearing.
Land O’Lakes identified the most affected farmers as clients in Kazungula and Sesheke. Six hundred and sixty (660) farmers were targeted the majority being the most marginalized, the women. They constituted close to 60% of the clients. Various trainings in goat management were conducted in order to prepare the farmers for goat rearing. The response was positive and overwhelming as all targeted farmers were able to build improved goat housing structures as a basic ingredient for good goat husbandry. In Njamba village 10 farmers were targeted and within a few months they had undergone necessary training to receive and manage their first flock of goats. Seven of the 10 members in the group were female; the group executive committee comprised all female and the Community Livestock Worker (CLW) was female. In the project, CLWs were the center for the provision of veterinary services to group members. In December, 2010, ZCL placed 30 goats in Njamba, with each group member receiving 3 goats.
By March, 2012, Njamba village had a flock of 147 goats from a flock of 30 female goats, thus providing a promising source of sustainable livelihood.
Mr. Njamba recalls the day when they received the goats: “it was exciting, there was celebration, everyone was dancing in the village, it was unbelievable!”
By March, 2012, Njamba village had a flock of 147 goats from a flock of 30 female goats, thus providing a promising source of sustainable livelihood. This was all within a period of 15 months. Mr. Njamba is excited that the flock for his village had grown so much and was now entering the marketing phase. As he gazed at the flock a few meters from him, Mr. Njamba shook his head and went silent for a while, then he strolled down a bush path murmuring to himself: “Once again, I have dignity”. His mother looked in his direction: “Unbelievable! Now, he can even afford to walk with his head high.”

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