Because most orphan households have no financial resources to purchase livestock or seed, this program makes resources available to them in order to support their efforts at building their capacity to sustain themselves. Thus, the project will leave orphan families better positioned to actively participate in livelihood activities and for children’s nutritional levels to improve. The strength of this project lies in that it is rooted in communities in which it is implemented. Since the needs were identified at the lowest community level and solutions also originated from the beneficiary communities, the sense of ownership that is gained through this process motivates beneficiaries to succeed and sustain benefits.
The small stock distribution activities aim to reinstate productive assets, especially in communities with limited opportunities for crop production. The initiative sets out to enable orphan households to rear indigenous animals that will provide milk, eggs and meat to households to improve their nutrition security. This approach addresses medium-term food security and nutritional needs by making milk and eggs available to orphan families. It also looks to longer term food security challenges by availing households with small livestock that can be used for household consumption or generating income, which is important in increasing the overall resilience of vulnerable livelihoods. Manure is also used for personal gardens.
Veterinary Training and Kits
One of the important objectives of this initiative is to improve access to services to vulnerable people. Therefore, another activity is to improve access to basic livestock medicines by availing veterinary kits to a trained community. In all areas where animals are distributed, a detailed training on care of small livestock is carried out for five to ten para-veterinary assistants for a period of five days. These are in charge of the veterinary kits provided through this program.
Contracts with orphaned families are strict and they are not allowed to slaughter, barter or sell animals before a pre-set time period. Taking into consideration that this can become a burden on hungry families, they receive drought resistant seeds and training in conservation farming so that small, personal gardens are built and maintained. The vegetables provided by these gardens, complemented with eggs and milk from animals, allows the children to eat healthfully and to stay healthy. Excess vegetables can be used for sale or to nourish the animals in their care. Manure from the animals is used in compost for the gardens, as are egg shells.
Seeds provided to the families are both for traditional local vegetables, as well as new vegetables which are proven to do well in areas with little rain fall. This allows the families to eat what they know while introducing them to new, nutritious food, as well.
There are some families who are barely surviving, due to the lack of food available. With prices skyrocketing, children are not able to feed themselves and have been found scrounging for bits of grass that might grow on the parched land. For these families, waiting for a garden to grow or a herd (flock, etc.) to mature is just impossible. For them, there is a short-term program where they receive emergency relief in the form of porridge. This is purchased in-country as much as possible and is distributed in 50lb bags. Guardians have reported that children are able to return to school shortly after starting to consume the porridge, as it is fortified and filling.
Gardens have a chance to grow when the kids and guardians are strong enough to plant and harvest. When the first harvest takes place, the porridge distribution starts tapering off until the children and guardians are only consuming vegetables and eggs or vegetables and milk, depending on which animals they are raising. In most cases, these families are able to trade some vegetables for corn meal, a traditional food, complementing their meals.