Group hopes to give back to the community through goat-rearing

Salma cuddles and lovingly strokes a days-old kid, as she watches scores of goats rush out of their large pen.

Salma with one of the kids in the Markaz Albayan Self-Help Group herd

This kid, one of several newborns, heralds a bright future for Salma and other members of Markaz Albayan, a self-help group at Ras Kitao on Manda. The group is defying the odds to keep a healthy herd of goats.

The group has allocated Salma two goats of her own

In the rainy season, Manda, one of the larger islands in the 65 that make up the Lamu Archipelago, is a beautiful land. Although the island lacks fresh water, it boasts thriving green vegetation and a variety of wild animals and birds.

But farming on Manda is tough. In the dry season, farmers rely on rainwater harvesting for their animals to survive until the next rains.

A recent entrepreneurship graduate, Salma could not find a job. She started a small business, cooking food and snacks for sale.

Besides her busy schedule, she finds time to advise the group, helps to keep farm records and tracks expenses to ensure the business succeeds.

Markaz Albayan is a beneficiary of the KEMFSED project. The group received a grant of Sh1.7 million for a community project to rear goats and put in Sh177,000 as their contribution.

Markaz Albayan Self-Help Group watch the goats leave for the fields

They built a large pen with gutters to harvest rainwater in a jabia that had been constructed by a family that allowed the group to use a portion of their land for the project.

Markaz Albayan group harvests rainwater from the roof of their goat pen

In June 2023, they bought 95 goats of a local breed and five high-grade bucks to improve the stock. Some of the money was set aside for vaccines and other costs.

By April 2024, the goats had delivered 14 kids, including one set of triplets. The first six kids died, but group chairman Hafidh Ahmed Omar is confident the rest will thrive. “Those that died were born prematurely as the mothers were still adapting to the local climate,’’ he says.

Some of the kids in the Markaz Albayan Self-Help Group herd

“We agreed to rear the goats as a group because this is easier than distributing them among members,” says Hafidh. “As the herd grows, members will be given some of the goats.

Already, the 20 members, eight of them women, are seeing benefits. After the kids were born, each was allocated two goats.

The goats are still collectively managed and cared for by the four herders the group has employed.  “We encourage them to let the goats multiply before they can start selling them.

According to the chairman, money earned from the sale of goats and milk will be shared among the members.

Says Hafidh. “This approach works for us because our aim is to empower the community to pool resources. They will earn more from the business by sharing costs,”

“The group is made up of community members who have been volunteering at our madrassa to care for the children and they also donate clothes and other items. We decided to start the group to empower the community.”.

There is a strong connection between the group and the Madrasatu Albayan, an Islamic school at Shella on Amu Island.

Hafidh, a professional tour guide on the historic island of Amu, volunteers as the mudir, or administrator of the school. He helped to start classes in a mosque with just six pupils. And thanks to contributions from the locals and other well-wishers, Madrasatu Albayan is now housed in a new building and has over 120 students.

A volunteer from the group teaches at Madrasatu Albayan

“We still have a long way to go as we need boarding facilities and money for food and other needs,” says Hafidh. “As their incomes from goat farming increase, the members can afford to care for their families and also contribute more to keep the madrassa running.”

Group chairman Hafidh Ahmed attributes the growth of the madrassa to support from volunteers

Salma says: “I hope to earn money from the sale of goats and milk to boost my business and give back to society.”

The KEMFSED grants are meant to promote sustainable fisheries and create complementary livelihoods options such as crop and livestock farming Some 66 groups in Lamu County have received over Sh121 million in KEMFSED grants for community projects to enhance livelihoods. Of these, 29 are implementing fisheries projects. Another 24 chose livestock rearing and four crop farming. The rest were funded for social welfare and environmental projects.

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