Africa Exclusive works closely with UK charity Send a Cow to support vital village level development projects in Kenya. Directors John and Sue Burdett have visited several projects and have been astounded at the improvements in people’s lives. We and our clients have just raised £30,000 to fund a project which has helped 40 families such as Lawrence and Benta whose stories are told in more detail. Typically these people were earning £1 a day labouring, which is not enough to feed a family let alone pay for schooling or urgent medical care. However each family does have one or two acres of land surrounding the hut. Send a Cow trains them over several years to turn hard baked ground into fertile soil to produce healthy vegetables fruit trees and fodder crops for a cow. Click here to read more details of exactly how this works.
The families work together as a group, supporting and encouraging eachother and once trained will receive a cow or goat. After about 2 years money from sale of excess milk and vegetables usually produces about £6 a day which pays for food, schooling, medical help and even university fees. Most families reinvest money in projects like chicken farming, buying chairs to hire out, setting up a village shop or buying a taxi and their income keeps growing. The cows are inseminated and first calves are passed on to another family. People who were previously the poorest, ashamed because they couldn’t even feed themselves find self respect and become trainers of others, passing on their knowledge.
Another benefit is that children can see that they can earn a living from the land and feel less tempted to head for the city slums looking for work. Their parents now have the money to buy their children a few acres of land for themselves rather than seeing their land divided into unworkably small areas when passed on to the children. Send a Cow stays involved for around 5 years and the improvements are self sustaining and spread well beyond the initial beneficiaries.
We and our clients are currently raising £25,000 to fund the Siaya project. Click here for more details. This project group is 25 remarkable women of whom 20 are widows in a high HIV area. Between them they care for 79 children including many orphans. Most are currently earning about £1 a day labouring and are desperate to learn and work to improve their lives with help from Send a Cow. In July John and Sue visited the project and met Florence and Janu whose stories are told here.
If you would like to donate to support this project please click here. If you would like to speak with John or Sue Burdett to hear more about these projects please email or call us. You may even wish to fund a project yourself!
If you would like to support this project financially please send a cheque payable to Send a Cow to Africa Exclusive at:
Suite 18 Mobbs Miller House
or click here to go to our Just Giving page to make a donation online.
In July 2013 John and Sue Burdett from Africa exclusive visited to Siaya community in Western Kenya. This is a poor area with a high incidence of HIV. We met 25 remarkable women of whom 20 were widows, mostly in their 40s and 50s. We also met 79 children they are caring for of whom many are orphans. When a child’s parents die in Kenya the only hope is to be passed on to a relative. Some of these desperately poor widows we met were caring for three or four children of their own and a similar number of orphans. Click here to read more about the particular stories of Janu and Florence.
These 25 women were each earning about £1 a day labouring on other people’s land and while they each owned one or two acres around their huts, the land was baked hard and unproductive. Determined to break out of their poverty trap they had banded together and approached the charity Send a Cow for help. Africa Exclusive had just finished funding the nearby Jinuii project and we were taken to Siaya to see if we would accept the challenge to raise the £25,000 needed to help these ladies transform their lives.
Over the last year Send a Cow has met with the ladies and provided initial training to see how they work together and to assess whether they have the will and strength to succeed. The conclusion is that they do and we saw the first few vegetable gardens benefitting from composting and mulching techniques which are slowly turning barren looking land into productive fertile soil. The group has joined together to buy chickens which one member of the group is responsible for. Most ladies are starting to grow napier grass which will now be sold as fodder, and later used to feed their own cows when they arrive in 18 months time.
Over the next one to two years the ladies will receive more training in soil improvement, hygiene, fodder production and livestock care before they receive their cows. As we have seen from the Jinuii project the arrival of the cows transforms their income level providing each family with around £3 or more a day from sale of excess milk – three times what they were earning from a day’s labouring. Vegetables and milk will improve the health of children. After two years we expect these people to have the money to educate all of the children and pay for simple medical emergencies. Many of the ladies will prioritise basic improvements in their housing and other money will be invested in more income generation ideas like chickens, opening a shop or buying more land. Some will be able to afford to send the brightest children to university.
The British Government has agreed to fund 50% of the cost Send a Cow projects in Kenya including Siaya PROVIDED THAT Send a Cow donors raise the rest. So every £1 you give releases another £1 from the Government and if you are a tax payer Send a Cow can also reclaim around 30% of what you give under the Gift Aid scheme. If you would like to give to support this project please click here or email us and we will send you more information and a donation form. If you would like to talk with John or Sue Burdett about the project please call us and they will be delighted to tell you more.
Send a Cow is one of the UK’s leading charities specialising in practical long term help for small scale African farmers. You can see more details of its work at www.sendacow.org.uk. Africa Exclusive has been supporting their work financially since 2008 and Directors Sue and John Burdett have seen their work in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
They usually work for 3 to 5 years with small groups of very poor rural people who each have 1 or 2 acres of unproductive land but who are unable to farm it productively and so are obliged to labour on commercial farmland for around £1 a day which is insufficient to do anything more than barely feed the family.
Usually a group of around 30 people who have heard of their work will approach Send a Cow for help. After passing evaluation, Send a Cow will work with the group for a year trialling vegetable growing and other training, seeing how the group works together. If they show the ability and determination to work hard long term and if the funding can be found from UK a project will begin.
The people are taught practical techniques such as composting, double digging and the preparation of drought resistant vegetable gardens. They are taught to grow fodder crops and livestock husbandry as well as a variety of hygiene and health related matters. A local Send a Cow extension worker will look after around 20 such projects, regularly visiting and encouraging.
After around 18 months when cow shelters have been built around 18 of the families will receive pregnant cows which produce milk and a calf which is passed on to another family in the group. The cow is then reinseminated. The milk and vegetables improve the family diet and excess is sold typically generating £6 a day income – far more than they could earn labouring. This amount is usually enough to provide more food, basic home improvement and education and basic medical care for children. All families invest some money in an amazingly entrepreneurial array of projects like chicken farming, a shop, a taxi, chairs for hire, more land for farming, fruit crops and so on.
The most striking transformation is in the hope and self-respect of the people who were previously the poorest of the poor. They become people who are able to pass on calves and knowledge to their neighbours and are freed from backbreaking labour to concentrate on their own land. Their children see that they can earn a good living from the land and so are not tempted to drift to urban slums as their parents can buy new plots for them to farm. Many families generate enough income to apy University fees and of the families we saw in the established Jiinui /Echengo about 25% had children at university.
This formula is varied to suit each area of Africa and works extremely well using tried and tested simple techniques and working with people over a 5 year period. No cash is given and money is used to provide training and the cow. A typical 5 year project costs around £30,000 and we calculated that in year 3 the increase in family income arising from a project is at least double that in one year alone. Compared with emergency food aid this is incomparably more cost effective and on a small scale prevents the need for such food aid in these localities.
"The Send a Cow part was exceptionally interesting and inspirational."