Beda, Ragabta Zarga, Manragna and Khabcha trot out of the round pen into the fresh air. The four goats have just eaten leaves and millet sorghum stalks and drunk fresh water. Now they are ready for the day out in the steppe. It is early morning in Morgué, a small village in eastern Chad. The sun is shining down from the sky and heating up the air. The landscape beyond the flowering gardens is brown, sandy and dry.
How goats help
In recent years, people in the region have often had to contend with drought. Followed by heavy rainfall, the capricious weather made life difficult for small farmers. They often lacked the basics. Food for the children. A harvest that would get them through the hard times. «We often didn’t know how we would get through the next day,» recalls Halime Bangara, wiping the sweat from her brow.
Since the goats have been in the barn, her everyday life seems easier; her nights are less troubled: «The children have milk and have recently started going to school. Thanks to the goats, our lives have improved sustainably,» emphasizes the smallholder.
The 40-year-old smallholder is the proud owner of four goats. Three years ago, she attended a course on sustainable agriculture for a SWISSAID project – and how she and her husband can use the land more diversely. She received three goats and learned what the animals need, how they are kept and why medical care is important. And how the animals mate and reproduce.
The small farmer and her family built a round barn made of bricks with a roof made of wooden planks. The goats spend the night there. Throughout the day, they wander through the countryside, watched over by the children, looking for their own food before returning to the safety of the barn in the evening. There, Halime Bangara collects the manure as fertilizer for the fields. She then milks the animals and gives the milk to the children.
After the goats have returned from the pastures, Halime supplements their feed with red millet grains, which are a real treat for the goats.
Since the goats have been in the barn, her everyday life seems easier and her nights less troubled: «The children have milk and have recently started going to school. Thanks to the goats, our lives have improved sustainably,» emphasizes the smallholder.
Mariam Gamaye feels the same way. The 19-year-old has owned the goats for 18 months. The children in the village look after all the animals during the day, while Mariam has recently started school and is learning reading and arithmetic.
Thanks to the goats, Mariam Gamaye can finance her studies and improve her living conditions.
Student Mariam Gamaye drives the goat herd to the evening pasture before the herd spends the night in the barn.
Like Halime Bangara and Mariam Gamaye, many women, small farmers and landless people feel the same way. There are around one billion livestock farmers in the Global South. Most of them, around 600 million, only own a few animals. They often live from hand to mouth on less than two dollars a day.
Important helpers in the fight against hunger
Goats improve the lives of families in many ways:
- Balanced nutrition: milk brings important vitamins and micronutrients such as protein and calcium to the table. Especially for children, the nutritious milk is essential for survival.
- Larger harvest: depleted soils and erosion caused by extreme weather conditions lead to lower crop yields. Goat manure as an organic fertilizer makes soils fertile, healthy and resilient again. This ensures better harvests and full plates.
- Higher income: The milk can be sold.
- Necessary savings: In very hard times, the small farmers can sell an animal. They can use the proceeds to feed themselves and their families in times of need.
- Stronger women: Women are often entrusted with animal husbandry. This strengthens their backs and ensures lasting equality.
- Sensible land use: Two thirds of agricultural land is not suitable for arable farming. The soil is too dry, too steep, too cold, too hot. In these regions, frugal farm animals acclimatized to the region are often the only way to make sensible use of the land and obtain the necessary food from it.
Thanks to goat’s milk, I can now feed myself and my children a healthy diet.
Ramou Ibro, smallholder farmer and mother
So it’s no wonder that goats play an important role in SWISSAID’s projects. Agroecology – our key in the fight against hunger – would not work without animals. They are part of the 13 principles. This is because healthy animals help to close the nutrient cycles. They graze, maintain the landscape, consume plant residues or graze on fields that are not suitable for arable farming. With their valuable manure, small-scale farmers can fertilize the soil sustainably and carefully.
SWISSAID primarily promotes the use of small animals – such as goats. The focus is always on animal welfare: this is ensured through courses and further training. The smallholders are supported by experts. Because only if the animals are doing well will their owners do well too!
Ramou Ibro has also attended training in goat husbandry to ensure that her animals are doing well. “I take very good care of my goats. They are family members and life insurance in one”. In courses on organic farming, she has also learned how to use goat manure to improve the fertility of her farmland. Since then, maize, okra and millet grow much better.
Successful goat Christmas campaign 2023
We were able to raise over 45,000 francs with our goat Christmas campaign and, thanks to you, exceeded our target. Thank you very much!