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Livestock for livelihoods

Photo: Chris de Bode / Panos Pictures for Farm Africa Photo: Chris de Bode / Panos Pictures for Farm Africa

The problem

The drylands of Ethiopia’s South Omo zone and Uganda’s Karamoja sub-region are home to thousands of pastoralists who migrate with their livestock in search of pasture. In both locations, disease, drought and degraded grasslands have cut the size of herds, exacerbating high levels of poverty and malnutrition.

In South Omo and Karamoja, goat rearing is common but unproductive. Goats are traditionally farmed for their meat, so local breeds yield little milk. A lack of suitable fodder, particularly in the dry season, and poor access to veterinary and breeding services limits milk production.

Goats are often managed by women and goats’ meat and milk is a rich source of protein and nutrients. However, pastoralist women’s low social and economic status, together with poor knowledge about nutrition, means that women often struggle to translate improved goat production into the consumption of nutritious foods and increased household income.

What did we do?

Farm Africa worked with pastoralist women living in South Omo and Karamoja, supporting them to set up sustainable, small-scale goat-rearing enterprises that will help them generate an income and provide their families with a more nutritious diet. This was achieved by:

Supporting women to rear goats

Farm Africa established Women’s Livestock Groups, through which we provided training in goat rearing and fodder and rangeland management to women in Uganda and Ethiopia.

We improved women’s access to livestock by setting up a revolving goat scheme, which required each woman who receives two goats from Farm Africa to give two does (female goats) to another vulnerable woman once her herd had grown, creating a cycle of improved prosperity.

Each woman who receives three goats from Farm Africa gives three does (female goats) to another vulnerable woman once her herd has grown.

Economically empowering women

Farm Africa helped the Women’s Livestock Groups establish Village Saving and Loan Associations, where women unite to save and make funds available to invest in each other’s businesses.

The project taught women how to add value to their livestock business through training in goat breeding, fattening and the production of goats’ milk products.

This project also helped women aggregate their produce so they can sell in bulk and command a higher price for their goods.

Improving diets

Through a blend of targeted communication activities, this project inspired, educated and empowered women to consume more goats’ milk and improve dietary choices for their families.

Women’s Livestock Groups provided a platform for women to come together and share experiences, discuss common problems and develop solutions to improving nutrition, child and maternal health, and goat production.

Veterinary and livestock breeding services

Farm Africa helped vets and community animal healthcare workers expand their operations and deliver vital veterinary services to local livestock keepers.

Most breeds of goat native to these areas are hardy, but produce little in the way of milk. Farm Africa established community-run goat breeding stations where high-yielding dairy goats that are suited to the local landscape and climate can be bred and sold. And at the same time, we established buck rearing stations where goat owners can bring their local does to crossbreed them.


A series of booklets summarises the project's learning on the following project components:

Who did we work with?

We carried out this work in partnership with the Africa Innovations Institute, an agriculture and food systems research institute, and the Mothers and Children Multisectoral Development Organization, an NGO that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged mothers and children. This project was funded with UK aid from the UK government and Jersey Overseas Aid.


Your support makes all the difference Your support makes all the difference

A female goat in South Omo only costs £34, but it could be the difference between struggling to survive and a thriving future for women and their families. Can you make a difference by sending a gift today?


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