Like most rural communities in the Ukambani region of eastern Kenya, members of the Nzwii self-help group rely on their land for survival and income. In the harsh dryland climate of the region, finding a reliable source of water and producing enough food is a daily challenge.

Since the group started working with our Kenyan partners, Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF) in 2009, their situation has much improved. They have built multiple sand dams and developed their farming methods, helping them meet some of their basic day-to-day needs.Rhoda Muthoka, Vice Chairlady of Nzwii self-help group in front of their cowshed

"One of the benefits we will get from the bull is that it will cross with some of the indigenous cows and create a new breed that will grow very fast. We can then sell the calves and get an income."

Rhoda Muthoka, Vice Chairlady, Nzwii self-help group.

Now it’s time to think long-term. Money is needed to buy essentials such as fuel, soap and to improve homes. Children need to attend school, beyond the free primary education, to increase their prospects for the future.

The Nzwii self-help group are working hard to generate this income. Right now they are preparing for a new arrival in the village, who is going to play a crucial part!

Rhoda Muthoka, the Vice Chairlady of Nzwii, tells us how:

“Today we are constructing a cowshed for a bull that's been provided by ASDF.”

“One of the benefits we will get from this bull is that it will cross with some of the indigenous cows that we have and create a new breed that will grow very fast. We can then sell the calves more quickly and get an income.”

“The big breed that we get from this bull, we can sell it in the market for 50,000 shillings (£350), compared to the indigenous ones for which we get 25,000 to 30,000 shillings (£170 to £200)."

Rhoda is hopeful that they will be able to rear up to 20 calves a year – generating a reliable source of income for the 30 group members and their families.

“The money we’ll get, we’ll share it among the group - each person will get an equal share. We'll use it for school fees for our children and for domestic purposes like buying food and other household items and we also want to do more farming.”

Communities who decide to set up a cattle programme, are actively involved in the project right from the start. ASDF provides the bull, training on how to look after it and the materials to build a cowshed.

They also work with the self-help group to make sure enough pasture fields are available to grow fodder and put them in touch with the local veterinary officer. Once all this is set up, it's up to the community to look after the bull - placing their future firmly into their own hands.

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