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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.