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Goats bring self-sufficiency to local communities

By JT - Jan 02,2013 - Last updated at Jan 02,2013

AMMAN — Dina Al Ayed, a resident of Southern Shuneh, found herself helpless after the death of her husband.

Widowed at the age of 40, Ayed had five children to nurture, feed and raise, and the JD90 she received from the Ministry of Social Development could barely cover her family’s basic costs of living, forcing them to rely on charities and aid programmes in their area, according to a statement from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Last January, Southern Shuneh District official Khalil Odwan paid a visit to Ayed and proposed an idea to improve her family’s livelihood.

The proposal was to provide Ayed with three pregnant goats to raise, allowing her to benefit from the milk they produce, the UNDP statement said.

Dina’s goats were provided through a UNDP-supported joint programme supported by several ministries, government departments and international agencies called “Food and nutrition security in Jordan towards poverty alleviation”.

The programme, the agency said, aims at responding to the challenges of food availability, access and nutrition in different areas including Southern Shuneh, which has a high poverty rate.

“I was reluctant to take the goats,” Ayed said, “as I didn’t want to lose the monthly payments I get from the Ministry of Social Development and other charities.”

But Odwan, the focal point of the programme in Southern Shuneh, explained to her the benefits of accepting the initiative, saying she would not lose her support from the ministry and instead would have a chance to supplement her income.

After having the programme explained to her, the widow said, “I accepted the idea willingly and was excited to raise the goats.”

Dina’s family is one of hundreds of poor families in Jordan benefiting from the programme, UNDP said.

“We have followed a set of criteria in selecting the families, based on the number of family members, whether they are widows or divorced, whether the family has a provider or not, and if the families have a member with disabilities; but most importantly it is the willingness of the families to accept the goats,” Odwan said in the statement.

Ayed and the other beneficiaries have been trained by a local veterinarian.

“I did not have any idea how to milk a goat,” she said, “but after I took the training, I not only know how to milk the goats but also know how to take care of them.”

The veterinarian and the local officials pay regular visits to the families and monitor the process intensely, the UNDP statement said, adding that a barn was built on Ayed’s property to shelter the goats, to which she has since added an extension and a fence to give them more room to wander around.

Ayed said the three goats had given birth to four kids and are pregnant again.

She and her family are now self-sufficient from the dairy products her goats produce, and she is thinking of starting a business to maximise her benefit.

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