G is for… Goats!

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In this series of short blogs, we’re working through the alphabet to highlight the approaches – some perhaps more surprising than others – that we take at CHIPS to grassroots peacemaking!

The benefits of animal rearing

In Ghana, an increasingly unpredictable climate has led to lower crop yields and more tension over land. Because rearing animals is less intensive work and much cheaper, CHIPS has been working with communities since 2011 to help them begin farming with animals in a sustainable way that allows them to diversify their sources of food and income.

Like all of our work in Ghana, the idea at the heart of this project is to alleviate poverty while bringing enemies together. Divisions, mistrust and tensions often exist at clan level, as well as at between the Konkomba and Nanumba tribes themselves. We take every opportunity to break down these barriers, through regular group meetings and training sessions that help people get to know and work alongside each other.

Why goats are great!

Goats are a particularly good option in Ghana for several reasons.

First, they reproduce fast – up to three times a year! – unlike sheep who breed just once annually, which means an almost constant supply of new goats for the groups.

Second, there is a great deal of truth in the stereotype of goats being resourceful. They thrive under simple conditions with locally-produced feed and need comparatively little TLC! Materials for animal housing are easily available locally and feed is abundant – including the countryside’s lush grass.

Third, goats provide a variety of practical uses. As well as providing meat to feed extended families or sell at the market, for example, they deliver a regular supply of fertiliser which can be used on crops and they provide leather for making shoes and other items.  

How the project works

In partnership with local community leaders, we invite some of the poorest households to take part and organise them into small groups. The main challenge for new animal farmers is a lack of technical knowledge, so the small groups provide members with mutual support.

We also give the groups access to the expertise they need. For example, we often invite a vet or community animal health worker to visit the community and educate members on feeding, water and medication (and we also train up new workers where there aren’t any). Having the right infrastructure is also key to getting started, so we focus on encouraging and supporting households to build and maintain suitable housing for their animals too.

Once things are going to plan, the CHIPS team goes to the market to buy goats, sheep and chickens and we give a total of two to each new group. When their animals are breeding, each group then donates two animals to the next generation of new groups, helping to make the project sustainable and ensuring its ongoing success. Then they are free to keep the rest to meet their own household’s needs or to sell at the market.

How goats make peace!

Animal rearing has without doubt been one of our most successful practical peacemaking projects over the past ten years in Ghana and goats have been at the heart of its success.

It has helped the communities to nurture new relationships, and to build trust and confidence. Perhaps the best proof of this is when we see members happily sharing stories with their former enemies and thanking them for their tips and advice!

Members have also begun to start to spend time in neighbouring ‘enemy’ villages, where they wouldn’t have ventured before but they now have new friends. We’ve also seen the attitudes of some community leaders begin to shift – as they see the results from the project and their people working and laughing together across the divides!

Mawong’s story: “Goats have brought us together with our enemies!”

Mawong is a wife and grandmother who lives in Lungni. Her husband is old and unable to work, while her extended family struggles to meet their rising living costs.

She was part of our first animal rearing group ten years ago. After starting with chickens, her animal rearing work has gone from strength to strength and she was soon able to buy her first goat! Since then, she has made enough money to pay school fees for her two grandsons, save a fund to protect her household against a financial emergency, and has even recently donated two goats for a traditional community funeral.

Today, Mawong is preparing to buy her first cow after five years of goat rearing and her enthusiasm is contagious. She says the project has helped her community to make peace with its former enemies and regularly gives testimonies at group meetings to encourage both Konkombas and Nanumbas to take part. She is now recognised as a local expert, and members from both tribes regularly visit her to ask for advice on rearing their animals!

Our campaign: Goats for Ghana!

Now we have an important opportunity to expand the project but we need your help!

We’ve been working with the people of Nyobido since 2019. The community there has been particularly hard hit by poor farm yields in recent years and disruption from the pandemic. The women used to farm beans or cowpeas, but after a series of disastrous harvests are now struggling to get by. Parents are unable to pay school fees for their children while there are many poor older women who are no longer able to farm crops but are still capable of rearing goats.

They women of Nyobido have heard of the success of our goat rearing project from other communities and want to start one there to help combat poverty and support their elders. To make this to happen, we need to buy 40 goats.  

Can you help us to make their dream a reality?  By donating to our Goats for Ghana campaign, you can:

  • Help a struggling household to lift themselves out of poverty and meet their rising living costs, such as school and medical fees
  • Create a sustainable community project as the kids will be passed on to help others start new groups
  • Bring former enemies together as friends and colleagues as they learn and work together

You can also choose to Give a Goat as a sustainable gift to a friend or loved one if you wish. To do this, just choose the ‘Give a Goat as a Gift’ option on our campaign page and we’ll get in touch with you to confirm the recipient’s details and take care of the rest!

Here are some examples of what your gift could achieve:

  • £12 could buy enough goat food to get a new group started
  • £30 could buy a single goat for a new group
  • £100 could pay for a goat and everything a new group needs to get started!

Please donate to our project if you are able and share with your networks. We would be hugely grateful for your support!