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Goat Power – Beka’s story

"We used to obtain money only from husbands, it was not common to see women managing their own income. Now it is different.”

For 38-year-old Beka Bergi Gaito from the South Omo region in Ethiopia, goats mean economic independence and a chance to give her children a better future.

Beka is a participant in Farm Africa’s Livestock for Livelihoods project, funded by UK aid from the UK government and Jersey Overseas Aid. The project is supporting women to set up goat-rearing enterprises that empower them to earn their own money and improve their families’ diets.

“It has been two years since I started working with Farm Africa. I remember the first time the staff came to our village, they told us about their idea of setting up saving and loan groups. They offered to support the groups so that members could borrow and start or strengthen their small businesses."

"Many people refused, they feared that their business would fail and they would be unable to repay the loan. But I was courageous and was among those who accepted the advice. I took 1000birr (£24) to do more with my small business; selling local drink and fattening goats. I knew it was going to work!”

She chose to take part because she didn’t want to be economically dependent on her husband and wanted to have more say in how her family’s money was spent.

 “We use to obtain money only from our husbands, it was uncommon to see women managing their own income. Now it is different. Take my case; it has been three years since I first had the idea of having my own income source. I started to see people doing small businesses and how it changed their lives. I realised that these women could earn a profit and became property owners, that they had motorbikes and were making themselves independent from their spouses."

"The opposite was true for those who don’t start small trades. I started to ask myself ‘what happened to us? Why am I staying economically dependent? That’s how I moved forward and decided to start my own business. Farm Africa’s project made my dream real.”

 

Beka takes pride and enjoyment in caring for her goats, she often visits community animal health workers that Farm Africa has trained for advice.

“I am taking good care of my goats: I feed them with salt and ‘Erbo’ (a nutritious local plant from the forest). Also, I have planted food, pigeon peas, which are rich in protein. In consultation with the Farm Africa team and animal health workers, I closely follow up on their health getting them sprayed and dewormed.”

“I have a total of seven goats now; three female, two male and two baby goats. I am getting goat milk only from two. I give all to the children. Goats mean food, they are money as well: this one brings my family money that means I can pay for medical expenses or buy clothes.”

Encouraged by her success so far, Beka wants to expand her goat enterprise further.

“What will I do with the money I made up till now? I will extend my business… I will buy, feed my livestock and make them big, do business, earn money and ensure I have a source of income. This will make sure I do not get everything from my husband. I want to have money that I can spend whenever I like.”

Beka is one of the women featured in Farm Africa’s photography exhibition Goat Power, an exploration of the impact of Farm Africa’s Livestock for livelihoods project by international award winning documentary photographer Chris de Bode from Panos Pictures. The free outdoor exhibition will take place throughout the month of October 2020 on More London Riverside, on London’s South Bank.

www.farmafrica.org/goatpower

This project is funded with UK aid from the UK government and Jersey Overseas Aid, however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK or Jersey goverment’s official policies