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Goats for 3,000 families in Malawi

21st Feb 2011

Kate Pattison meets Annie Nangwirir, an orphan who is able to take care of her brother and sister in part thanks to the goat they received from Oxfam.

Fifteen-year-old Annie Nangwirir has taken care of her eight-year-old sister Agnes since they were orphaned four years ago. Agnes never misses school and is top of her class (out of 70 children).

"It was important to my parents that we all went to school," says Annie. "We wouldn't miss school when they were around. My brother Edison wants to be an accountant and Agnes is top of her class. They are both quite motivated people they wouldn't want to miss school, they like it.

"This year I sold a goat to pay for my school fees; I have already paid for two terms. I have also bought enough school uniforms for all of us. I will have to see what happens for the school fees for next term, maybe I will have to sell some maize."

The Oxfam-funded goat distribution programme in Malawi started in 2005. Since then more than 3,000 families have received a goat and their lives have begun to change for the better. It's a simple initiative that aims to ensure that people have enough food all year round, particularly during the dry season or hungry months - when personal maize harvests have run out and the earth is dry so nothing can grow without irrigation.

A goat is a valuable asset to a vulnerable household; it breeds easily and can produce up to six kids a year. Offspring can be sold to help families cope or kept to produce manure, which will improve subsequent harvests. Ideally, within a year, each family will be able to choose to do both: using manure to increase their maize and vegetable harvests so they can produce a surplus to sell; and selling goats to improve their homes or pay for school fees.

Oxfam's work in Malawi

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