|A woman in Ebagueye receives two goats through our HERds program|
"At the market everything is expensive. With money we can get from our animals, I can buy clothes, take my children to the hospital or buy medicines for them. And sometimes I can buy food for my family,” said Sadouan Alhassan.
HERds offers the most vulnerable women in Tangarwashane a chance to become economically resilient by loaning participants a personal herd of two goats or one cow, providing readily-available nutritious fodder at low cost, free veterinary care, and training in best practice animal husbandry. Without an accessible method to bank money, livestock are the most reliable way for women to store “cash” for future and/or emergency needs. The program aims to help women raise healthier families, especially to combat chronic malnutrition among their children.
"Raising animals is our tradition. It is what we know how to do. It is our livelihood. It always has been and it always will be,” said Raichatou Salah.
In the Azawak region, in particular Tangarwashane, populations traditionally depend on livestock for their livelihoods. Dwindling rainfall and desertification over the last 15 years, killed off livestock and left families in dire poverty. Without ready access to water, food, healthcare, or money, the populations struggle to survive. The Azawak is the least developed region in all of Niger, a country where one out of five children dies before age five—one of the highest rates of child mortality in the world.
“The women Amman Imman work with are traditionally pastoral nomads. Livestock have been their wealth and security for centuries,” said Ariane Kirtley, Founder and Director of Amman Imman. “All [the people] want help replenishing their livestock herds. Women who benefited from our HERds programs [in our other villages] say in the past they relied on their husbands for their security. They now are proud because they feel wealthier than their husbands and are able to provide for their families.”
HERds builds on Amman Imman’s ongoing development work in the Azawak, which began with drilling borehole wells—sustainable sources of water. Amman Imman, as the sole organization committed to working in this region, saw a need to expand programs after the implementation of the boreholes in order to address the many imminent needs of the people. Amman Imman now supports their communities through food security programs, income-generation projects, health, education, and women’s empowerment activities.
The HERds program in Tangarwashane will offer:
Livestock Loaning. In the first phase, 50 women receive two goats for a one-year term and 10 women receive one cow for a single gestation period, plus weaning time.Fodder Bank. The program will assist in the establishment of a fodder bank and management committee to provide low-cost feed for livestock. The fodder bank management committee will be democratically elected by the women of Tangarwashane to set the price of and purchase fodder, and identify HERds program participants.Best Practice Animal Husbandry Training. Training will be provided to livestock recipients and non-recipient women to ensure animal health and herd sustainability community wide.Free veterinary care to keep participant animals healthy.
Prior to loaning animals, our staff will tag livestock and a veterinarian will administer deworming, vaccinations and conduct a health check. A veterinarian will also do periodic animal health checks when deemed necessary. At the end of the loaning term, the mothers are given to another group of beneficiaries. However, any offspring produced during the loaned period become property of the women to start their own herd. Should our primary livestock become unfit for the program, they will be retired, offered for sale, and funds used to repurchase new mothers.
Income personally earned from the livestock, generally from the production of milk and butter or selling of animals, in particular male offspring, will provide women with income to purchase food, clothes, medicine, and pay for their children’s school materials. Most importantly, women will be active contributors to their own financial well-being, greatly reducing their vulnerability when their husbands migrate.
Watch this video to learn more about the HERds program and how the women of Tangarwashane will benefit: