Heifer International Sheep Distribution Jump-Starts Senegal Project

Months-Long Animal Distribution Begins Under Large-scale USAID Grant Project

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 15, 2012) –A historic, months-long distribution of farm animals is now under way in Senegal, as Heifer International begins work on part of a new USAID Feed the Future project. Heifer estimates this handoff to 5,500 families to be the largest in its 68-year history. The original animal placement in the Bakel region is highlighted in a video that can be seen at http://hefr.in/SenSheep.

The Yaajeende Agricultural Development Program in Senegal comprises a consortium of five organizations, funded by a $40-million grant from USAID. Yaajeende means "abundance" or "prosperity" in the local Pulaar language, and reflects the goals of the project, which include improving the nutrition and income of one million individuals in 100,000 households across 60 regional communities.

"If you want to reach more families, and quickly, in this case 5,000 or more in just a couple of years, it works very well to organize as a consortium where each organization serves as a specialist for their component," said Francis Bouba, Heifer Senegal country director. "In terms of livestock, Heifer is the lead in Senegal, which is why we were selected for this high-profile project."

In December and January alone, 220 families received sheep and poultry from Heifer as part of this project in the Matam, Bakel and Kedougou regions of Senegal. In February, Heifer plans to distribute hens and cocks to 2o0 families and goats to 80 families. Heifer estimates that the increased economic activity resulting from the project will more than double the household incomes of farmer participants, which in turn will substantially reduce the number of underweight children.

Heifer is in charge of the livestock portion of the Yaajeende project. Other partners in the USAID-funded consortium include lead organization National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), Counterpart International (for nutrition), Sheladia (for irrigation and monitoring) and Manobi (for market information).

Bouba said, "What Heifer uniquely offers this project is our values-based approach to transform the minds of people in need. Poverty is not only a lack of goods; poverty is first a lack of understanding of potential and the proper governance to turn inputs into sustainable income. What I really appreciate in this consortium is the value-chain approach, where each partner has their own part of the budget and all work together in a common goal of enterprise development."

This project is at the front edge of ambitious efforts by Heifer International to scale up its work fighting hunger and poverty across the globe. By the end of the five-year Yaajeende project, about 5,500 families will receive animals and training from Heifer, and thousands more will benefit when those families Pass on the Gift of their livestock's offspring.

Amadou Sall, who received sheep in the initial December placements, expressed pure joy at the handoff. "When someone comes early in the morning and gives you sheep, you can only be happy," Sall said, clutching ropes for his three new sheep in his left hand, and the orange tickets he drew for them in his right hand. "It is too windy today, and there is much dust, but in spite of all this you are here ready to help us. We don't know how to write, but this day will never be forgotten. Even when we die, the message will be transmitted to the coming generations that one day we received visitors who gave us some sheep and promised us a better future."

About Heifer International

Heifer's mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 40 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.