independently established 127 groups making a total of 171 groups that for 31 units in 8 districts without counting other hundreds dairy goats groups that are not members of MGBA through farmer to farmer extension. In general the dairy goat groups are strong, autonomous and operational. The majority of over 550,000 user services of project services do not belong to groups, but membership does confer advantages. Without local goat credit scheme administered by each group, the poorest households would have been excluded from the project. Access to training and lower fees for buck and animal health services also eased participation. Group members’ confidence has risen with their knowledge and control. Group assets and income are jointly owned and members often collaborate in a “merrygo round” savings and credit facility to make the most of their personal resources. Chickens, additional goats and household goods are popular group purchases. Besides cash, members usually share materials and give each other support, encouragement and pressure to live up to group standards. 2.3.1 Advantages of being in a group People value things they pay for. This is the development argument around cost sharing as a means of conferring sustainability, in terms of training, breeding and treatment. MGBA acts as guarantor for breeding material given on loans repayable in kind for the expansion of the programme, but the individuals are obliged to put up collateral, which encourages a responsible attitude to business. Most MGBA officials are Community Animal Health Workers who treat members’ animals at a cost providing animal health services on demand, making it a demand driven services for quality control. 2.3.2 Gender and the role of women Women in Meru traditionally count goat management among their tasks, and the zero grazing system causes minimal disruption to their other responsibilities. However, the value and income generation of the improved goats attracts an increasing number of men, and their large appetites often involve the whole family in fodder collection. In many household, husband and wife share management of their dairy goat, and take joint decisions on the use of goat income and expansion of activities. The project has supported allwomen groups who requested and women believe that their success as goat farmers has earned them new respect from their husbands and empowered them within their own households. The current chair of MGBA is a lady citing a powerful example of gender inclusion and equality.
Case 5 Meru Goat Breeders Association