In Context: Poland

By Falguni Vyas

June 12, 2012

Editor’s note: In Context is a new series designed to inform and educate you on Heifer’s work in each country we have a presence. Every two weeks we’ll tackle a different country and examine unique situations related to hunger and poverty, how Heifer works to address them as well as take some time to explore local culture and traditions.


Population: 38 million

Native proverb: Kto ma morgi, krowy, Swinie, tego zawsze g?ód ominie! (He who has acres, cows and pigs, hunger will elude!)

Capital: Warsaw

Official language: Polish

Local currency: Polish z?oty

The Republic of Poland is in Central Europe, with Germany to the west, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south and Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east. The Baltic Sea is on the country's northern border.
Poland ranks 39th out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index, with an unemployment rate is 9.3% and a literacy rate of 99%. Before Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004, Russian was widely taught and was the country's unofficial second language. Since EU membership, German and English have replaced Russian as the most widely spoken languages after Polish.
While not a poor country, the accumulation of wealth by its citizens is limited. Political factors, including the two world wars destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and depleted its accumulated wealth.
Heifer's approach
Livestock portfolio: Cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, horses and bees
Technology used: Composting and enterprise development
Issues addressed: Food security, value chain development, income equality, education and biodiversity
Since 1992, Heifer Poland has been:
  • Supporting small scale farms  to enable them to seek self-reliance and developing farms to achieve sustainability
  • Supporting social groups in need
  • Educating people in response to changing economic conditions, and existing  and emerging challenges
  • Supporting local initiative

To date, Heifer Poland has assisted more than 30,000 families.