This week, several countries in Asia were celebrating the Year of the Goat during Chinese New Year.
We love goats too. Across Asia, these four-legged friends are changing the lives of families.
By raising goats, families are able to sell them and earn income – putting food on the table, keeping children in school and ensuring families can go to the doctor when they need to. But raising other livestock can do that too.
So what makes goats so great?
We asked a livelihood expert working in Laos to explain why he will, time and time again, provide goats to the poorest families. Vathana Keomany, the livelihoods and food security manager, gave us five reasons:
- Goats reproduce quickly. In just one year, an adult female goat can have two kids
- Goats are easy to raise and grow quickly. Within just six months, goats are ready for market
- Goats get good prices at market. By selling a single young goat, families can earn around USD$100, depending on the country
- Goats eat food that other animals won’t. They can adapt to many different landscapes
- Goats are easy to take care of. They don't get sick too often and are easy to handle
Still need more convincing proof?
These five families are proof of the impact goats can bring to a family.
- Sri Lanka – Goats help family recovers from civil war
During the Sri Lankan conflict that raged for more than two decades, officially ending in 2009, Subhashini was forced to drop out of school.
Now, her educational dreams are pinned on her seven-year-old son, Pavithran. The goats that World Vision provided her family are seen as the key to ensure the boy’s education is secured for the future.
- Mongolia – Goats protect modern day nomads from poverty
Some of the world’s last nomads, moving from place to place to graze their animals, are thriving thanks to their goats and sheep.
Not long ago, nine-year-old Gantulga’s family was living below the poverty line – earning only enough money for rice and flour. To boost their income, World Vision gave the family some mature animals, as well as their offspring. A year later, the herd’s number has doubled.
By selling the goat’s wool, the family’s income has improved, enabling the family to meet their children’s basic needs, including a safe home environment, school supplies and food.
- India – Goats keep children in school
“We were unable to go to school as we did not have the finances. We were weak because we ate only bread. We couldn’t afford nutritious food, but now my family members are healthy. I am healthy, thanks to the goats we got,” says 14-year-old Laxmi.
Laxmi’s family received eight goats from World Vision. Now, rearing is the family’s main source of income. “So far we have sold 30 goats. We invest the money we got from selling the goats in our children’s education and giving them healthy food,” says Lal, Laxmi’s father.
- Laos – Goats allow children to dream about the future
Cousins Yong and Khen are watching their herd of 10 goats grow and dreaming about what the potential income from selling the animals will help them achieve in the future. Yong’s father promises the money earned from the animals will be used on the boys’ post-secondary education.
- Nepal – Goats enable family to build a home
Samjhana's parents never dreamed they would be able to buy their children enough food or school stationary, let alone their own house. They were landless labourers, working for other farmers in a remote area - among the most marginalised in their country.
But when Samjhana’s sponsor gave the family a goat, life turned around. The goat reproduced, and the family were able to buy pigs, then a cow and then a rickshaw - all earning the family money. Soon, they had enough money to buy land and to build their own house, along with healthy food and school supplies for their children.
“Our lives have changed and we now have a future for our children, thanks to the goat,” Samjhana's mother Chameli says beaming.