Boran cattle in Yabello, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/ Camille Hanotte).
A majority of rural households in Africa keep different livestock species. But only a small proportion can afford to keep good quality livestock. This is mainly due to a combination of low government funding and the poor policies of external funders.
Those that do have livestock are faced with the challenges of infectious disease and ill-conceived breeding programmes. This means that they rarely achieve optimum production to meet their household’s economic and nutritional needs.
Households that keep livestock earn higher incomes, accumulate more wealth and consume more animal-sourced foods. They are also more able to pay for healthcare than households without animals.
I grew up on a small farm in rural Kenya. Although my parents earned government salaries working as civil servants, my education was largely paid for by my father’s livestock herd.
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