The Transformative Power of Livestock: Fighting Hunger and Poverty
According to a comprehensive study conducted by Natural Resources International in Kenya on livestock, poverty, and the agricultural sector of the country, farm animals play an actual pivotal role. Employing approximately half of the agricultural labor force and contributing 10 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), it has a significant impact on the nation’s economy. Notably, goats and sheep emerge as key contributors, accounting for around 30 percent of the red meat consumed in Kenya, in addition to providing wool and skins.
In Kenya, goats and sheep are considered invaluable “currency.” They serve as a means to settle debts, pay off loans, cover marriage dowries, and act as a savings mechanism during emergencies. The study highlights their importance in pastoralist areas where frequent droughts occur. These animals can be easily de-stocked during droughts, minimizing losses due to scarcity of resources. Therefore, they play a crucial role in safeguarding communities against the ravages of starvation.
Similarly, a separate study conducted in Colombia, South America, sheds light on the aspirations of small farmers who believe that cattle can significantly improve their financial well-being and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, many of these farmers lack the necessary resources to acquire cows.
“The milking cow is one of the factors that contributes the most to well-being,” the report emphasizes, highlighting the role cattle can play in ensuring a stable supply of milk and beef for household consumption. Cattle also provide security against crop failure, liquidity during financial crises, collateral for informal credit, and protection against inflation.
The relevance of protection against inflation cannot be overstated, particularly as millions of families worldwide grapple with the severe impact of unprecedented commodity price hikes. However, the report acknowledges the challenges faced by smallholders in acquiring livestock due to limited financial resources. It calls for the development of innovative mechanisms to provide smallholders with access to livestock, including credit loans and other alternative means.
Livestock holds the key to addressing global hunger, especially in impoverished nations where access to high-nutrient foods like milk, meat, and eggs is limited. Heifer International, a leading poverty-fighting charity, emphasizes the significance of animal proteins in providing essential nutrients to individuals, particularly women and girls. By incorporating animal proteins into their diets, people can attain the necessary nutrients more efficiently, even with smaller portions of food. This makes farm animals a crucial asset in regions grappling with high malnutrition rates.
GFA World, a global mission agency dedicated to serving impoverished families in South Asia and Africa, has been instrumental in rescuing thousands from hunger and extreme poverty. Personal stories exemplify the transformative power of livestock. Tavish, a resident of South Asia, recalls feeling helpless as he struggled to provide for his family by uprooting and relocating each year in search of work. However, the gift of a cow changed everything. The cow now provides a gallon of milk every day, enabling Tavish’s family to sell it and escape the cycle of hand-to-mouth poverty. The joy and relief they experienced were immeasurable, as they no longer had to migrate to find work.
Dayal Thomas, a GFA World national missionary, acknowledges the impact of livestock on breaking the chains of poverty. These gifts become a means of empowering individuals to rise above their circumstances and achieve a better future. The transformative potential of livestock is especially significant for widows who often face abandonment by other family members following the death of their husbands. Jamini, Tavish’s mother, expresses her initial despair and worries about her children’s future. However, the gift of an income-generating farm animal infused hope into their lives.
Livestock plays a vital role in addressing global hunger and poverty, and income-generating animals have proven to be transformative resources for vulnerable communities. The gift of animals, such as cows, goats, pigs, and chickens, empowers families to break free from the chains of deprivation and create a sustainable future. These animals provide not only a stable source of income but also access to essential nutrients and protection against financial crises. Initiatives like GFA World’s Livestock Fund have made a significant impact in rescuing families from poverty and demonstrating the power of compassion and solidarity.Learn more about poverty alleviation livestock
 Smith, T., Godfrey, S.H., Buttery, P.J., and Owen, E. “The contribution of small ruminants in alleviating poverty: communicating messages from research.” Natural Resources International Ltd., Kent, U.K. Jan. 1, 2004. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08cc840f0b64974001438/R7798_Proceedings-3-Embu.pdf.
 Holmann, F., Rivas, et al. “The role of livestock in poverty alleviation: An analysis of Colombia.” Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2005. http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd17/1/holm17011.htm.
 Coxon, Chris. “5 Ways Animals Help Reduce Global Poverty.” Heifer International. Oct. 22, 2018. https://www.heifer.org/blog/five-ways-animals-help-reduce-global-poverty.html.
 “An Income-Generating Gift for Tavish.” GFA World. September 29, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZA3HzInx0g.