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Helping women cope with climate change through intensified goat breeding

 

This project is helping women in rural Niger to adapt their goat-raising practices to climatic changes already affecting their traditional lifestyles. The “Intensification of goat breeding to help vulnerable women adapt to the effects of climate change” activity has helped women to adopt practices regionally that not only reduce environmental damage, but also increase their income.

Fast facts:

  • More than 1,000 women benefitted
  • 19 percent increase in goat ownership by women in the region
  • 210 extremely poor women benefitted from revolving fund system

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The problem

Climate change is already affecting the villages of Tamalolo, in the Sahelo-Saharan zone of Niger. Irregular rainfall and unpredictable weather are preventing crops from growing normally; violent winds are causing sand dunes to invade farmland; recurring floods are decimating livestock. Pastoral and agricultural production has become unreliable, and poverty in the region is on the rise.

Climatic changes have also affected the tradition of goat-breeding, which women rely upon as a key source of cash. Many women have thus been turning to small-scale trade, including of straw and firewood, which can further degrade the environment.

The solution

This community-based activity is helping women in the Zinder region of Niger develop strategies to adapt their goat-breeding to climatic changes. Awareness campaigns and workshops led to identification of goat breeds best suited for the natural environment and community needs. Special “Sahel” goats were distributed to villages. Fodder seed stocks were also diversified, leading to higher yield. Women were trained in basic veterinary practices, including vaccination and identifying illness.

The project, funded by UNDP and being carried out by the local non-governmental organization N’Niyat in conjunction with local communities, established livestock “food banks,” while a “revolving loan” system of goats has helped the poorest among the women. Communities have come to understand how some of their practices had been exacerbating climate change effects, and have changed their lifestyle as a result.

Helping the planet

The adapted goat-breeding strategies have reduced soil degradation in the region, which has helped improve Tamalolo’s ecology and biodiversity. Reducing soil degradation can also contribute to conservation of freshwater sources, which are extremely critical for the arid Sahelo-Saharan region. Better management of natural resources contributes to their conservation, and ensures that they’ll continue into the future.

Helping people

Augmented crop production and goat-breeding has given people in Tomalolo communities – especially women – more options for making money. Women are empowered through sharing new skills, while the communities’ tackling challenges together has increased social cohesion and confidence. Goat ownership by women has grown by almost one-fifth as a result of the project, while the revolving loan system for goats has assisted women at the bottom of the socio-economic scale to gain an economic foothold.

Spillover effect

The project’s best practices, including a vulnerability reduction assessment tool, are being incorporated in broader initiatives. The project has also established a local committee to advocate and lobby for policy support on climate change adaptation strategies, including sessions for sharing knowledge with key government officials.





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Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.

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