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Six students of Agricultural Development at the University of Copenhagen have reached a milestone in their African social project
After nearly two years of work, it is a very special moment. We have finally arrived in the Solio villages to deliver the goats. As we unload the goats from the back of the truck, the villagers greet us with a traditional Kikuyu song of thanks.
We introduce each goat by name, before placing them in their new home, a sturdy shelter which the villagers have recently finished constructing.
We are a group of six students who study the Agricultural Development Master’s programme at the University of Copenhagen. Together with a student from the University of Nairobi, we set up the Solio Goat Project in August 2012.
See the 2012 University Post interview with another student in the development project here.
The Solio villages are part of a government resettlement scheme for internally displaced people from the Mount Kenya region, and we have previously visited Solio as part of a fieldwork course.
Back then, we lived with the communities for two weeks, learning about their livelihoods and farming practices. We realized that most farmers are struggling to produce enough food due to the very dry climate, and they are frequently dependent on food aid.
It became clear that the farmers are experiencing a difficult time, despite all their hard work. We saw an opportunity to give something back to the Solio community for helping us in our studies, and at the same time gain some valuable experience of managing a small-scale social entrepreneurship initiative.
The aim of this project, then, is to buy goats for some of the villagers, so they can get started with dairy goat farming. The goats will provide the villagers with a source of nutrition, while empowering them to establish a livelihood not dependent on aid.
The impact of the project will hopefully grow over time, as the goats breed and the herd size increases.
The fund-raising part of the project was a lot of fun. We organised a party with live music, a raffle with some nice prizes, and a market where various edible treats could be bought. We then collaborated with another group of students from our programme to establish an online fund-raising platform. Through this website people could support the project by buying a Christmas ‘gift’ for a friend or family member; a goat tail, perhaps, or even an entire goat. Donors were given an official Solio Goat Project certificate to thank them for their contribution. Through these two activities, we raised 2000 euros.
Check out our video about the project here:[video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPrD7wrGYns&feature=youtu.be width:525 height:380 align:center]
So in March of this year, two of our group returned to Solio.
We got in touch with the local representative of the Dairy Goat Association of Kenya, and bought 10 pedigree Kenyan Alpine goats – the finest dairy goats in Kenya. A local vet, called Ben, kindly helped us to select the goats, negotiate the prices, and give some basic training on how to take care of the goats. We also provided some inputs such as animal feed, seeds to grow fodder crops, and milking containers.
It was important to us that the community groups take ownership of the project, and so we asked the groups to invest their own time and resources into the project by building the goat shelters. They constructed two impressive shelters in just two days, and it was great to see their pride in their work.
Being involved in a project like this can be very rewarding. For anyone considering starting a social entrepreneurship initiative, we would highly recommend it. If you have a nice idea, just give it a go. For sure, it is a lot of hard work, and it requires a long-term personal commitment. But you are given a unique opportunity to put into practice what you have learnt in the classroom, and, very importantly, it can be a lot of fun.
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