Project: Estonia


Country Overview:

Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, both in area and population. The population density is rather sparse, with only 69 percent of the population living in towns. Forests and marshes cover more than 60 percent of the territory. The population is decreasing and getting older, largely due to low birth rates. 

After Estonia regained its independence in 1991, the government instituted a stable macroeconomic framework. Relatively fast economic growth has taken place since 1995. Increases in exports to industrial countries, coupled with an influx of foreign capital have stimulated Estonia’s economic growth. The economic structure is approaching that of industrial countries, in that the relative share of agriculture has gone down, while the share of the services sector is increasing. 

Although development has been rapid in Estonia’s urban regions, this has not been the case in many of Estonia’s rural areas. Structural reforms in the rural economy have caused extensive unemployment, which has brought about social problems. Alcoholism is widespread, and domestic violence cases are common. Consequently, a high percentage of those families in need of support live in Estonia’s rural areas. 

Heifer's Work in Estonia:

Estonia is part of the Heifer Baltic Foundation based in Vilnius, Lithuania. The foundation was opened officially in 2005 with help from the Irish NGO Bothar, which provided a large grant to establish Heifer's first office in the region. Estonia's first project, in Saaremaa began the same year.  

The Heifer Baltic Foundation, operating in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, is working in rural communities to end hunger and poverty. It has the goal of participating in regional development and international cooperation programmes, to raise funds and implement projects not only in the Baltic countries, but also in other Central and Eastern European, Asian and African countries.

Key Services Heifer Provides:

Sustainable agricultural production: Livestock breeding and management training; Organic fertilizers; Biodiversity preservation

Post-harvest management and processing: Accessing local and alternative markets

Market development: Micro-enterprise development; Supporting small scale farms

Technology: Using environmentally friendly technologies; Innovative breeding techniques; Biomass fuel production

Nutrition: Promoting food security; Improving access to dairy, meat and vegetables through organic gardening