Marthe Tchere, a smallholder farmer from Bokyo in Chad, was one of the first to join SWISSAID’s goat project. Thanks to the animals, she can now feed her family, earn her own money and use it to send her children to school. And in doing so, she earns the respect of the men in the village.
In this project, SWISSAID is working to improve the living conditions of the population in Chad, particularly smallholder women farmers. The women are given goats, which have a positive impact on their family’s health, education, soil fertility and community. Keeping goats makes the women more independent and confident, and makes them more hopeful about the future.
Five goats roam bleating through the ocher-colored yard of Marthe Tchere. They are small and large, white, gray, brown and spotted. The hearty animals distract the children from their chores on the farm and search under their T-shirts for something edible. Djamila, Midikoss, Kora, Mindi-Kilmi and Maguirapo are the names of the goats and belong to the Tchere family.
Goats - good for health
The next morning, in front of the house made of bricks and straw, Djamila, the oldest of the goats, seeks Marthe’s proximity. It’s time for milking. That is the job of Marthe’s son René. The goats provide between four and five liters of milk a day. A blessing. “In the past, we often didn’t have enough to eat” Marthe recounts sadly. Because of the drought, food often became scarce. “So that my children at least had something to eat in the evening, I often collected leaves from the trees and cooked a porridge from them,” Marthe says. Thanks to the goats, she says, the children are now well fed. The goat’s milk provides the children with protein and calcium. From a nutritional point of view, the composition of goat’s milk is ideal. “And it tastes good” Marthe laughs.
8-year-old René Sadala, Marthe’s son, is happy when he gets goat’s milk. Every morning he milks the goats and shares the milk with his brothers and sisters.
Goats - good for the wallet
“For the first time in my life, I’m earning my own money,” Marthe says proudly. The sell of goat brings her around 10,000 to 20,000 FCFA (18 to 36 francs). With this money, she can buy food when the harvest from her own field is not enough. Previously, Marthe earned extra money working in the fields of wealthier people. So she could at least buy some millet to eat.
Goats - good for education
22-year-old Berthe is one of Marthe’s older daughters. She talks about the support her mother has been able to give her through the goats: “I study in Bitkine, which is over 20 km from my home. When necessary, mom sells a goat and buys me school supplies or sends me money. And she does this not only for me, but also for my younger brothers.”
Goats - good for the soils
Marthe has learned a lot in the project. She now knows that the robust animals can adapt perfectly to the dry region affected by the climate crisis. Before receiving the goats, she attended training in goat husbandry – how to feed, milk and care for them properly. And in agriculture workshops, Marthe learned more about goat manure. She now knows how to process the manure and use it properly in the field. Manure restores soil fertility and promotes plant growth. This guarantees bountiful harvests and full plates. “Since I started applying the goat manure in the field, the corn and okra pods grow much better.” The first millet leaves in her field glow a rich green, heralding a bountiful harvest.
Before Marthe had goats of her own, her life looked very different. The 35-year-old knows what it means to struggle to survive in the midst of a nationwide famine and extreme poverty. “I used to barely be able to feed my family,” she says.
Goats - good for the community
Thanks to the goats, Marthe can now not only feed her family, but is also respected by the men in the village. This was not always the case. The men were suspicious at first when the women started keeping goats. Because until then, there was not a single women with cattle in the village. And the finances were a matter of men only. But once the women multiplied their goats and sold the first animals, the men changed their minds. “Since we have become more financially independent, our position and standing in the village community has improved significantly – especially among men” Marthe says happily.
Goats - good for the future
Marthe has big plans for the future. “I want to continue to increase my herd so that my children can continue to go to school and have a chance to get an education.that is what I wish with all my heart. If my mother had had goats…” she muses as she turns back to her work.
The chances that the lives of the Tcheres and the other families in the region will continue to improve are good. The concept with the goats is as simple as it is successful: The four female goats that Marthe and three other women received from SWISSAID gave birth to kids, which the women gave away to four others. These in turn gave birth to kids – and so on. Today, every woman in the village has at least one goat that roams the farmyard bleating.
Did you know?
- have no teeth in the upper jaw
- are ruminants and herbivores, eating mainly grasses and herbs, but also nibbling on bushes
- often have a seasonal change of coat with changes in coat length and coloration
- both sexes carry horns. The horns of the females are short, thin and only slightly bent, those of the males strongly bent to hang and spirally turned in
- belong to the economically most used domestic animals
- are threatened in the wild in their existence
- live mainly in mountainous regions – they occur in Asia in areas above 6000 meters – but also in steppes and desert areas
- are often active at dusk and go in search of food in the early morning or late afternoon
- Females often live in groups with their offspring, while males usually remain solitary and join the group only during mating season