In the north - eastern Kenyan town of Wajir lies the village of Iresteno, bordering Ethiopia, where CARE Kenya has been working with communities on Livestock product preservation and value addition at an aim of enhancing food security in households. Since 2008, CARE has been working through the Regional Resilience Enhancement against Drought (RREADIII) Project to build capacity in meat, hides and skin preservation in the Iresteno community. The 20-woman strong Halgan womens' group, formed in 2010, is a beneficiary of CARE's activities. The group focuses on the processing and selling of meat, hides and skins, but also deals with gum Arabica and petty trade as extra sources of income. We meet Halima Abdullahi Haji, one of the group members, to hear about how the project has helped her:
'My name Halima Abdullahi Haji, and I am a forty year old mother of eleven children. I initiated formation of Halgan women group of about 20 members. The women joined me during a desperate time. The presence of a severe drought led to all the men and their livestock migrating, leaving us women behind. We got together becausemost of us were now heading families, with no source of income; we had lost our remaining livestock to drought and diseases. Coming together would help us make some money to help feed our families'
Each member contributed a registration fee of Ksh 200. This money was used to purchase goats which they would slaughter, selling the raw meat to the locals. Although they managed to make some money, this was not enough. 'As much as we were doing business, we kept no records and sometimes the fluctuating market prices of the goats would really affect us, especially during drought seasons when there were very few goats in the markets' explains Halima.
'In 2009, CARE Kenya came in and trained to us on how add value to the meat and milk products for them to last longer and be available during drought period. We were taught how to preserve Nyirinyiri using traditional methods of preserving meat hide and skin which we realized can making profit of about 150 Ksh (USD 2) . The processed goat skin can fetch us up to Ksh 350 (USD 5). In addition, CARE gave us 16 goats, 20 litres of cooking oil, packaging materials and a few litres of milk all totaling to Ksh 40,000 (USD 500). This was a great boost to our group and we are so grateful!!'
' As a Mother I am happy to gain these considerable skills on Livestock product preservation and value addition which ensured me to have food at my home both during the drought and rains, and no more skipping meals for my family. I have also been able to open up my own hotel-restaurant from the profit. I am happy that I can sustain myself and my eleven children. I also bought 15 goats recently but I lost 11 due to prolong drought. '
' As a single mother, it can be quite a challenge to provide for my family, however the group has been supportive and it's not only me, all the 20 women have gained much from being members of this group. We are all very grateful for CARE for all the help they have given us. They have helped us greatly!'