Healthy livestock for better livelihoods
Paletwa Township, Chin State: Oat Tha Linn Village is a small village situated in the northern part of Paletwa Township, Chin State. Its 278 residents are of the Khumee ethnic group. Chin State, is the poorest state in Myanmar and in villages like Oat Tha Linn, employment and business opportunities are extremely limited.
The experience of U Htoung Linn’s family was typical of the village. This is how he described it: “For our living, my family used to depend on crops from shifting cultivation and turmeric grown on a small plot of land. I cultivated two acres of upland paddy and quarter of an acre of turmeric. The yield was uncertain normally and very low. So we had to live from hand to mouth.” The family also had a rat-infestation, which increased their vulnerability, and U Htoung Lin did not know if he could afford to keep his two daughters in school.
When the UNDP’s Community Development and Remote Townships (CDRT) Project started a programme in Oat Tha Linn, U Htoung Linn became a committee member of the village livelihoods committee. The committee proposed improved livestock breeding as a livelihoods generating project. Village residents raised a small local breed of goat, which commanded a low price at market. They proposed introducing better breeds of goats that would get them better prices. The goats had to be procured from elsewhere. They arrived by boat in Oat Tha Linn, from the Magwe region, via Kyauk Taw Township in Rakhine State.
- Throughout Myanmar the UNDP has supported 12,488 livestock breeding projects with technical assistance
- USD 6,918,651 has been provided so far
- The results have been dramatic, ensuring food security and increased incomes for 364,109 families
- Donors contributing to UNDP’s Human Development Initiative in Myanmar include Australia, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA, European Commission
U Htoung Linn was one of three people selected by the village community to raise the better breed of goats. The agreement was that U Htoung Linn would raise one billy goat, and repay Kyats 45,000 to the livelihood committee within 10 months without any interest.
This was not difficult to do, as U Htoung Linn explained, “To increase the quantity of the better breed of goats I also bought two nanny goats with profit from selling turmeric I harvested. The number of goats increased to 25 within one and a half years and with income from selling 10 goats I could buy 14 bags of rice that was adequate for our family consumption for 7 months.”
When the number of goats reached to 38 U Htoung Linn sold 21, and the profit enabled him to buy 20 bags of rice, that would feed his family for a whole year.
U Htoung Linn was able to invest some of his goat given profits to set up a small theatre showing movies on video and a mini rice mill. The income from these two businesses was enough to cover the family’s daily expenses. Income from the land on which they grew aromatic tubers and turmeric and their growing herd of goats and cows, made them more comfortable. They have a new house and U Htoung Linn’s two daughters are in high school.
U Htoung Linn’s family is now classified in the top wealth category in the village. He said that this was “a positive consequence of breeding upgraded goats. I shared my experience and success with my fellow villagers and others from nearby villages. Now, 25 households in my village are breeding improved breeds of goats.” The UNDP wealth ranking survey shows a real change in the village after the better breed of goats were introduced, with the number of poorest families being halved from 20 to 10 and the number of most well-off families going from 2 to 17.
U Htoung Linn believes the unity and commitment of the village livelihood committee were vital to the success of his family and other households in the village. The committee is responsible for monitoring and managing funds provided by the UNDP. The committee, gently guided by the UNDP, learnt to manage the group’s revolving fund and setting the village’s development priorities. The process delivered not just larger incomes but also the village’s capacity to manage its development activities.