When Abdoul fled from his home in Mali due to armed conflict between the northern and southern regions of the country, he couldn’t imagine the challenges ahead. In the region of Burkina Faso where he and his family settled, food shortages meant his children would not eat — sometimes for several days in a row.
“We had practically nothing to eat,” he says. “We were often forced to beg.”
The Sahel region of Africa, which includes parts of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, Mali Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan, is at a crossroad of humanitarian emergencies. A growing population of displaced people fleeing conflict, coupled with a hunger crisis stemming from climate change and inflation has created a devastating situation for millions of families.
This isn’t limited to the Sahel, either. More than 7 million people in Somalia are on the brink of famine. And in Haiti, nearly 5 million people are unable find enough food. The global hunger crisis is the worst it has ever been, and girls and their families can’t survive without support.
Providing families with a sustainable source of both food and income is critical in an immediate response — and for many pastoral communities, there’s nothing better than livestock.
The gift of livestock is game-changing during food shortages. With meat and eggs to eat or sell, families can feed themselves and afford things like school fees for their daughters. Girls might even discover a new passion, like 15-year-old Assétou, who also lives in Burkina Faso.
Assétou was forced to drop out of school in grade four. Her parents were struggling to afford food for the family, and only one of Assétou’s siblings was able to continue their education. Without school, Assétou was at an even higher risk of child marriage.
But a whole new world opened up when she received her livestock gifts from Plan. She discovered a love for farming and envisioned a new life supporting her community with her animals — and going back to school.
“Within five years I will have many animals and be able to take on other people to help me manage them and sell them for money,” Assétou says. “To all those who helped me, I say thank you very much. I hope you help other children too, so that they can move forward.”
In Togo, Aïcha was 22 when her dreams fell apart. Her family couldn’t pay to continue her education, and she was turned down for a midwifery scholarship. Aïcha’s mother pressured her to take up work as a domestic servant in Togo’s capital city, but the industry is rife with abuse and absent any allies to look out for girls.
When Plan arrived in her community with livestock training, Aïcha immediately signed up to learn poultry farming — an unusual choice for a woman in Togo, where farming and livestock rearing are traditionally seen as male professions. Despite objections from her family over her career choice, Aïcha was determined to become a successful businesswoman.
“From the moment I decided to be a poultry breeder, I received criticism, but I surpassed all that and took all my courage to get here today,” Aïcha says.
At the end of the training, Aïcha received a kit to help her start her business which included 250 chicks, vaccinations and materials to construct a coop and care for her chickens. After just five months, Aïcha has 230 hens that are already laying eggs.
“I want to become the main protein supplier in my area and start a market garden with some livestock,” Aïcha says. “I hope to one day be able to deliver organic products in bulk.”
With their livestock gifts, both Assétou and Aïcha are on a new path, able to sustain their own livelihoods while supporting their communities during a time of intense need.
You can help even more families survive, too. With a Livestock Gift of Hope, you’ll provide girls with lifesaving support. You’ll help families start their own businesses and feed themselves, making it possible to afford their daughters’ education and break the cycle of poverty. You’ll create real, lasting change.