Why give a goat...or a sheep or chicks?

 Tanjina Mirza

Why give livestock to farming families in rural communities in the developing world? Because they’re a great way to help improve income, nutrition, health and education for children living in poverty!

When you give livestock through Plan International Canada’s Gifts of Hope – whether it’s goats, baby chicks, sheep, 3 hens and a rooster, baby buffalo, or farmload of animals – you don’t just provide the animals. You also help fund the planning, training in how to care for the animals, access to veterinary care, and community support that go into the program to make it effective.

Here are the top five reasons that giving livestock is a great idea.


1 Community members make decisions about livestock

Plan International doesn’t decide that people should have goats – the community members decide. All our projects are community-driven, which means local people identify the problems and challenges they’re facing, and the possible solutions. Families value livestock highly; they are important assets (and sometimes the only asset) and families tell us time and time again that they see livestock as a great way to improve their lives.

2 Animals help the most marginalized families escape poverty

We work with the poorest communities in the world, where parents struggle every day to feed their children. Community members identify the poorest families, and those are the ones to receive the animals. For these families, the poorest of the poor, the additional income and nutritional value from animals will make a big difference.

3 They provide vital nutrition

Milk from cows and goats for local dishes like yogurt, kefir, and clarified butter, along with eggs, provide children with an important source of protein. For poor families, food containing protein is generally out of reach as it tends to be more expensive, so having chicken or goats provides access to high quality protein that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Fertilizer from manure helps to grow nutritious vegetables, improve crop yields and contribute to better all-round nutrition for the whole family.

4They generate an income

After meeting their own nutritional needs, families can sell animal products at the local market to help pay for things like healthcare and education for their children. Plan International also helps create co-ops, which enable farmers to sell milk at twice the price they’d get selling independently. And animals like goats are a valuable asset, which can be sold in times of economic shock when families need immediate cash.

5The benefits are sustainable

Plan International works with community members and local agricultural experts to decide on the best type of livestock for the area. Considerable thought is given to designing appropriate programs built on scientific evidence and local knowledge that can be sustained within the local context and environment. While goats may be the best choice in one region, chicks or pigs may be appropriate in another. Families who receive the livestock also get formal training from local experts as well as ongoing support from a local volunteer project coordinator, other participating families, a veterinary committee, and sometimes agricultural co-ops. And when the animals have offspring, one or two are passed along to other families in the community so that others will benefit – and the impact of the project continues.

Pen of goats

Plan International is a development organization committed to helping children and families break the cycle of poverty. Sometimes agricultural programs (such as food basket and endless harvest) are the best way to help bring lasting change, and in other times or places livestock are most effective because of local growing conditions or community priorities. In all cases, our programs also include water, education, health and other livelihood projects to build communities where children can thrive.

When you give through Plan International Canada, your gift supports effective, well planned and well monitored livestock programs that go far beyond just an animal – they give some of the poorest families in the world an opportunity to provide for their children and break the cycle of poverty.

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