Study: Livestock Program Breaks The Cycle Of Hunger In Zambia’s Copperbelt

Posted by on December 10th, 2015 | 0 Comments »

Kashi  Nelson

By Kashi Kafle and
Alex Winter-Nelson
University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign

 

 

 

Livestock donation programs are a popular way to support families in need in developing regions. A gift of farm animals can provide the recipient with access to foods like milk and eggs, as well as a source of regular income to reduce poverty and further improve nutrition. Over the years, there have been many moving testimonial accounts of the transformative impact of livestock transfer programs, but there has been little quantitative analysis of their impact, until now.

A community facilitator for Heifer International’s Copperbelt project checks on a cattle shed constructed by one of the participating farmers. Studies reveal that community based knowledge and support are crucial to the success of livestock donation programs. Photo source: Kashi Kafle, University of Illinois

A community facilitator for Heifer International’s Copperbelt project checks on a cattle shed constructed by one of the participating farmers. Studies reveal that community based knowledge and support are crucial to the success of livestock donation programs. Photo source: Kashi Kafle, University of Illinois

Recent studies [i, ii, iii] have used rigorous experimental designs to document the impact of livestock transfer on consumption expenditures and diets among households in rural Africa. Our research team at the University of Illinois partners with Elanco Animal Health and Heifer International to analyze a livestock development program in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia – the heart of Zambia’s mining sector – and investigate the role of livestock transfer on poverty and food security. Our studies have shown that people in deep poverty who receive livestock donations can experience rapid and sustained improvements in their livelihoods. (See the 2015 GAP Report® for additional examples of food security and sustainable agriculture partnerships that are making a difference in Zambia.)

This family received 7 goats in 2012 as part of the Heifer International livestock donation program. They now have 55 goats which has increased their income, food security and nutrition. Photo source: Kashi Kafle, University of Illinois

This family received 7 goats in 2012 as part of the Heifer International livestock donation program. They now have 55 goats which has increased their income, food security and nutrition. Photo source: Kashi Kafle, University of Illinois

Prior to Heifer’s program, livestock ownership was rare in the Copperbelt Province. Despite the potential for crop and livestock production, people’s reliance on mine labor for income left them with little time or resources to increase their livestock productivity. The Heifer International program we analyzed combined livestock donation with training and “social capital”[iv] development through community groups and farmer cooperatives, to give project participants access to support services such as extension and finance, as well as access to markets for their increased livestock production. The participants received either seven goats, two draft cattle, or one dairy cow depending on agro-ecological conditions of their village. All recipients were poor farmers who demonstrated interest in maintaining animals and agreed not to sell or slaughter the animals as long as they were productive and to donate the first female offspring of donated animals to another community member.

Fig 1. Studies by the University of Illinois revealed that livestock donation programs increase milk and meat consumption among program participants.

Fig 1. Studies by the University of Illinois revealed that livestock donation programs increase milk and meat consumption among program participants.

For our study, we assessed the impact of the livestock donations on poverty (consumption expenditures) and food security (dietary diversity) outcomes by comparing changes in outcomes for households that received animals with changes in outcomes for eligible households in communities that Heifer is not yet able to serve. Baseline data showed that the recipients had daily consumption valued at about US $1.00/day before receiving the animals. We found that the livestock donations, combined with the community training and social capital development, increased household consumption expenditure by more than 25 percent, food expenditures by more than 30 percent, household livestock revenue by 200 percent or more, and dietary diversity by adding at least one additional food group to the household’s daily diet.[v] The food security impacts were also felt by community members who did not receive animals but now have greater access to milk and meat.

The effects of livestock donation on recipients’ livelihoods began to appear within a year of receiving the animals. Three years later, the recipients continued to show higher levels of consumption and improved diets. Moreover, they had passed on the female offspring of the donated animals to others in their communities and had reinvested in their own livestock operations. The quantitative evidence confirms the anecdotal testimonies: Livestock donations can generate food security and economic security for families in need.

For additional examples of food security and sustainable agriculture partnerships that are making a difference in Zambia, read our 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report.

 

References:

[i] Jodlowski, M., A. Winter-Nelson, K. Baylis, and P.D. Goldsmith. 2016. “Milk in the Data: Food Security Impacts from a Livestock Field Experiment in Zambia.” World Development 77:99–114.

[ii] Banerjee, A., E. Duflo, N. Goldberg, D. Karlan, R. Osei, W. Parienté, J. Shapiro, B. Thuysbaert, and C. Udry. 2015. “A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries.” Science 348(6236):1260799.

[iii] Kafle, K. 2014. “Is There More than Milk? The Impact of Heifer International’s Livestock Donation Program on Rural Livelihoods: Preliminary Findings from a Field Experiment in Zambia”, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting, No. 170629.

[iv] Social capital development includes training on gender development, social inclusion, sharing and caring, sustainability, self-help groups and cooperatives, group self-reliance, business management, livestock management and care, and regular monitoring and evaluation.

[v] In absolute terms, the growth in expenditures amounts to be about $0.25/capita per day but the small absolute change is having impressive effects on consumption as the recipients are eating more nutritious foods such as milk and meat and items like rice that are not produced locally and considered luxury foods in these communities.

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