Women, Goats and Peace, Marsabit, Kenya.
Background and Project Rationale
Sauti Moja is a Community Based Organization (CBO) working in Marsabit County, Kenya dedicated to enhancing the livelihoods and food security of vulnerable women and children in pastoralist communities. The County is in the arid area of Northern Kenya, where there is too little water to grow crops, but animals such as goats or camels can survive by grazing the pastures and shrubs. There are large numbers of destitute female-headed households (mostly widows) unable to provide adequate food and other basic needs for their children due to loss of their livestock. The Sauti Moja project provides groups of widows with livestock (goats or camels) as a “loan” plus animal health and management training and veterinary medicines. To repay her “loan,” each woman “passes on” the first female offspring to the next most-needy household, so this will directly impact more vulnerable households. These pass-ons of female offspring more than double the number of households that benefit.
In addition to learning how to keep their animals alive and productive, these widows learn leadership skills so they can take on other types of projects. Sauti Moja Marsabit implements a Family Health Education module that further builds up women’s confidence and capacity to control their lives. Due to climate change and increasing drought in Marsabit County, many different ethnic groups are crowded together into dwindling pastures. This has lead to violent conflict over water and grazing rights. Most of the widows lost their husbands through violence during livestock raids. A key feature of Sauti Moja’s work is encouraging women to work in “multiethnic groups” to encourage friendships among former enemies.
Women occupied a low position in the traditional pastoralist culture. This project brings self-sufficiency to the “poorest of the poor” and also earns them the respect of the community. They have been invited to participate in peace-building
activities because of their friendships with families in other tribes, due to their Sauti Moja livestock projects.
These formerly vulnerable women, initially victims of violence, end up becoming active agents of peace.
Sauti Moja staff and local veterinary staff provide the livestock and training to the widow’s groups. Veterinarians International has promised to provide the veterinary medicines and supplies for animal health, and the transportation costs to reach these remote communities.
Goal of the Sauti Moja Kenyan Goat Project
The goal is a reduction in extreme poverty in the targeted pastoral communities and access to sustainable livestock health services.
This project will enable 240 households to access vet drugs, vaccines, and improved livestock management practices, to increase the health and productivity of livestock, resulting in improved food security and ability to withstand climate or violence-based shocks. This project is part of a wider existing Sauti Moja Marsabit project of supporting pastoralist communities through wildlife conflict advocacy, human health training, and related programs.
- Healthier animals from effective livestock management, vaccines and medicine will lead to an increased survival rate of young animals, building up to a herd size that can sustain the family.
- Increased production of goat or camel milk will improve child nutrition and health.
- Increased use, trade and sale of animals and their products will reduce future vulnerability to drought.
- Improved animal management and advocacy regarding wildlife/pastoralist conflict will reduce the number of livestock lost due to predation.