By Lwandamo Katondo

A total of 70 mothers in Mitwi ward of Kalabo district have ventured into goat rearing as a means towards dietary diversity.

This follows the distribution of 130 goats to seven Nutrition Support Groups under the Small Livestock Pass-on Program.

Mitwi Ward Nutrition Coordinating Committee (WNCC) secretary Harry Katoka confirmed the development to the District Communication and Advocacy Technical Working Group saying “each group comprising of 10 mothers received a minimum of 18 goats.”

Mr Katoka disclosed that all the beneficiaries have been sensitized and given guidance on the small livestock pass-on program and its design. The first pass-on will take place after six months.

“They have welcomed the program’s design which requires a beneficiary to pass-on the goats’ offspring to a fellow pregnant or lactating mother who is also waiting for empowerment. After six months, we’re likely to get 18 goats from each group.

“The goats will then be given to other household groups, and so on. This program will help our mothers as the whole essence is to fight against malnutrition,” he said.

Mr Katoka expressed optimism that goat rearing will have a positive social-economic impact on the nutrition status of vulnerable households with children falling within the 1st 1000 days of life because the intervention enhances the availability, access and consumption of organic goat products among pregnant and lactating mothers.

He noted that goat milk and meat are an available source of vital nutrients such as proteins and essential micro nutrients while the dung serves as organic manure which improves the soil fertility of crop fields,” he said.

Mr Katoka has since implored the beneficiaries to take good care of the goats and adhere to the principle of pass-on.

“We are closely monitoring the program so that we pass-on the goats to (another set of) mother groups until all the 400 SUN II beneficiary households in Mitwi (ward) have been empowered,” he said.

And one of the beneficiaries, Shila Malupa, 25, of Mitwi village expressed gratitude that the seven mothers groups in Mitwi ward have been empowered with goats.

Ms Malupa who is also a Nutrition Support Group (NSG) promoter noted that the goats would provide meat and milk to children within the 1st 1000 days of life as well as improve the nutritional intake of both pregnant and lactating mother.

“The objective of the goats’ pass-on program is to fight against malnutrition, particularly stunting, by enhancing dietary diversity among SUN II households. It is also an economic venture through which beneficiaries will earn money from the sale of goats and enhance their livelihoods,” she said.

Meanwhile, a traditional leader has thanked the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) through phase 2 of the 1st 1000 most critical days program (MCDP II) for offering nutritional support to vulnerable mothers who struggle to feed their children.

Village headman, Induna Silolano, of Mitwi village in Chief Manyima’s area said goat rearing has several advantages over other livestock.

“Goats are easier to rear, and easily adapt to poor pastures. I wish to implore other sectors to provide various nutrition services to these SUN II households. Of high impact should be the provision of seed and agricultural extension services in order to promote farming for household food security,” he said.

The traditional leader however observed that poverty remains a grave social-economic challenge, especially in rural areas, and that when coupled with under-nutrition, humanity is threatened.

“The goats’ pass-on program will contribute to the improvement of the nutrition outlook of the target beneficiaries in Mitwi ward, which has been hampered with high prevalence of poverty contributing to high levels of malnutrition in the area. The beneficiaries must take good care of the goats and pass-on the offspring to other households so that eventually every SUN II household will have a herd of goats,” he said.