This week, organizations around the world are highlighting how they are working to #EndHunger as part of Feed the Future week. For one village in Senegal, where NCBA CLUSA works with Feed the Future, bringing the community together to end hunger meant more than just nutrition.
Bow Village sits far off the main road in Senegal, a stone’s throw from the Mauritania border. Here, 90 goats roam outside the village, grazing and feeding, shepherded by one of the villagers who has been paid by the community to take care of everyone’s goats during the day.
One of those goats belongs to Coumba Sarr, who recently received her goat as part of a pass on the gift program initiated by her community leadership group. The first round of goats came from the USAID | Yaajeende Food Security and Nutrition Program, a Feed the Future Project implemented by NCBA CLUSA, four years ago. The goats were given in partnership with Heifer International.
“We chose women who were pregnant or had small babies at first,” said Hawa Thioube, president of the Village community group. She explained that after that initial group of 30, every new family to receive baby goats has gone through a lottery.
The young mothers in the first group to receive goats learned how to raise and vaccinate them, and then gave the first three offspring back to the group for a second round, known as passing on the gift, or locally, habbanayé.
One woman, Aissata Guisse, received the first round of goats when she was pregnant four years ago. Now her baby is four years old, named Samba Dionjue. From the offspring, Aissata has since sold one goat in the market, and gave back the rest for other families.
As the new goats continue to be passed on, Hawa noted that there was an increased sense of community. “It helped us to gather all the women of the village. Now all the families are connected; we know each other,” said Hawa. There have been three “passings” since those initial goats.
In addition to the income, the village children now have access to goat’s milk, which all the women agreed had given them more energy. But beyond nutrition, the village group president said more importantly, they now had a precedent for coming together to solve problems. They had become a more resilient community.
“Before the goats, if we had a problem there was nowhere to go, every single woman was apart. Now, yes we have the goats, but we also have a group we can turn to,” said Hawa.
That sense of support both helped the women to trust each other and turn to each other to solve problems. Hawa turned affectionately to the women telling their stories, “It’s not just the goats; we have gotten a community.”