Mahatma Gandhi’s love for goat milk, it looks like, was not at all misplaced.
The Goat project, Lucknow and its associated work in different districts of UP in pulling out extreme cases of under nourished children to healthy condition proves that Gandhi’s idea about goat milk should be applied in fighting out under nutrition — in cheap and easy way.
Take the case of Gulab (name changed), who was one among the many cases of SAM (severe acute malnutrition) in village Kachinpurwa of Bagroun panchayat in Charkhari block of Mahoba district in Bundelkhand region.
Severely under-nourished at birth, Gulab was staring at death.
At a health camp held in November 2010, she at 13 months of age weighed 4 kg. What Gulab needed was regular nutrition.
Kriti Shodh Sansthan (KSS) of Mahoba took responsibility of aiding the families of undernourished in providing nutrition through its community driven livelihood goat project. The KSS took up 39 cases of SAM in Kachinpurwa village and 53 SAM cases in Chandauli village in the same block.
Nine months after Gulab turned normal.
She at 22 months weighed 8.7 kg, and this August 12.6 kg.
So what helped the poor families in these two villages in turning around the health conditions of their SAM kids? “Goat milk,” says Manoj Kumar of KSS.
Gulab and the others of her ilk were given regular access to goat milk.
The SAM kids were also fed locally grown groundnut and gud (jaggery) powder under an Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme.
All 39 cases of SAM in Kachinpurwa are now in normal category. Of the 53 SAM cases in Chanduali, 41 are now in normal category while the remaining 12 have shifted to MAM (moderate acute malnutirition).
Sanjeev Kumar, the managing trustee of the Goat Trust, Lucknow says: “Goat milk is healthier, nutritious and has medicinal properties.”
The Goat Trust, Lucknow runs a programme in association with local NGOs to promote goat rearing in several districts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The project is about creating Goat health managers (‘Bakri sakhis’—friends of goats).
The sakhis prescribe medicines, administer injections, vaccines and de-worming of goats.
She and other 250 women like her in 148 villages spread across four Bundelkhand districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and nine districts in Rajasthan have helped in bringing goat mortality rate drastically low thereby increasing rearers’ income substantially.
“Those who have goats won’t die of hunger,” says Suraj Mai, a Bakri-sakhi. The Goat Trust, Lucknow with a financial collaboration of Sir Jamshed Ji Tata Trust, Mumbai trains the Bakri sakhis.
Goats are a good livelihood means for those who cannot afford to rear cattle. Unlike cattle that are grazing animals, goats are browsing animals.
They need less water and find food from thorny shrubs, readily available.
But mortality rate of goats has been high in absence of lack of veterinary support. And, this is what the Goat Trust is providing solution to.
“Now five villages in Mahoba have their own goat health managers. Same is the case with projectlinked villages in the other four districts. Each village has one goat health manager, while some big villages have two. They take care of goats in their village and earn money too,” says Manoj Kumar.
According to the Goat Trust study, overall goat mortality rate has come down from 23% to 4.4% in one-and-a-half years in the project areas.
Goat Trust provides initial kits, but each sakhi has to replenish it by her earnings. On an average, each sakhi earns a minimum of Rs. 600 a month.
Sanjeev Kumar, a post-graduate from the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) says: “Goats sell well throughout the year and even better during some festivals for their meat. Apart from this, its milk has a very good nutritional value.”
(This story has been facilitated under the Oneworld poshan Fellowship Grant)