Frequently Asked Questions Gift Catalogue 1. Can I find out more about the family who will get livestock paid for by my donation? Let me explain how the gift catalogue works. The gift catalogue is designed so that people who want to make a donation to our work can see what their donation could buy / how their donation could make a difference. All proceeds raised through the catalogue are spent on our livestock and training programmes in Africa. If we were to match donations to gifts it would significantly increase administration costs, so less of your donation would go to the families you want to help (for breakdown of costs see q. 3). And, our staff in Africa wouldn't have the time or the resources to provide feedback on individual cases. However, Send a Cow does keep in contact with all the families we help through our African offices. All beneficiaries get regular visits from extension workers and other staff. We tell our supporters how their donations have helped farmers through stories and photos in our regular newsletter, Lifeline. Do you already get Lifeline? Would you like a copy? 2. Can my donation go to a country I choose/ I’d like my donation to go to Uganda/ Rwanda etc. Is this possible? You can choose to make a donation to a country of your choice. However, you cannot choose a specific gift for a given country. The donation will be earmarked for our programme in that country and spent on the gifts most suitable to the need of the farmers we are working with. You may, however, want to choose a particular country because there are certain gifts provided there. For instance: - Lesotho: Primarily training in organic farming practices (with a few goats and rabbits) - Kenya: Primarily cows and dairy goats - Ethiopia: The only country where we currently run fruit tree programmes - Cameroon: The only country where we currently run grasscutter programmes - Rwanda: The only country where we currently provide bee hives Also, if you make a donation over £3,600 you can talk to our grants team about the possibility of it being allocated to a specific project. 3. How much do you spend on administration costs? What percentage of my donation goes to recipients? Seventy-four per cent of our total income was spent on our charitable objectives. That is: 69% of livestock and agricultural projects, and five per cent on development education. It cost us 24 pence in every pound to raise our income last year. We spent 1p in every pound on governance costs. Our income for the financial year 2008-9 was £3.9m. 4. Will my donation be spent on the gift I have chosen / I don't want to buy livestock, so can I be sure my money will be spent on fruit trees? Let me explain how the gift catalogue works. The gift catalogue is designed so that people that want to make a donation to our work can see what their donation could buy / how their donation could make a difference. All proceeds from the catalogue are spent on our livestock and training programmes in Africa. That means it will buy animals or other gifts, training, and ongoing help from our extension workers. It will also pay for programme staff in Africa and the UK, as these are an essential part of our service to poor farmers. We always ensure that we give families the gifts that are most suited to them and to their local terrain. All gifts are carefully designed to help poor farmers work their way out of poverty, so your donation will make a real difference as it will be spent where the need is greatest and on gifts best suited to the associated farmers. You may, however, want to choose to make a donation to a particular country because there are certain gifts provided there (see answer 2c above) 5. Other charities have similar gift catalogues to Send a Cow, and their prices are lower. Why are yours so expensive? We cannot comment on why other charities might offer cheaper animals in their catalogues than we do. However, we can tell you why our animals cost what they do. Our costs don’t just cover the animal – they cover the whole Send a Cow ‘package’. That includes training, low-cost vet services, and regular visits by extension workers to give the beneficiaries advice and check that their livestock is doing well. A majority of our dairy cows and dairy goats are provided ‘in calf’ or ‘in kid’ which adds to the cost – but provides the family ‘two for the price of one’ and an immediate impact in terms of milk. If the first born is a female it is passed on to another needy member of the group. To make a real impact on a family’s life we always buy good quality animals (pure breeds or pure breed crosses). Unfortunately there is often a shortage of good quality animals, resulting in high prices. Our staff are knowledgeable, and ensure that we get the best value for our money. Good quality animals produce much higher yields of milk or eggs etc. Their offspring are also of a superior quality and fetch more money at market – the offspring of meat goats, for instance, are much heavier than their local counterparts. Less good quality animals create almost as much extra work as better quality ones – but with far less return. In many villages we place good quality bulls, to breed with local cows. This improves the genetic stock of animals for an entire area. Other animals may seem comparable to other charities. This is because the local markets for these animals are more buoyant. 6. I would like to buy a ‘farmyard’, as featured in your gift catalogue. Who will get it? We don’t give a whole farmyard to any single beneficiary. The farmyard gift is a symbolic one – it’s designed to show what £2,000 can do for several poor families. If you donate a symbolic farmyard, we spend your donation on gifts for families in the various countries where we work. We can’t give you details of all those individuals who receive your gift. But we will send you a photo of a farming family who’ve recently been helped by Send a Cow, along with the story of how their lives have changed. We also tell our supporters how their donations have helped farmers through stories and photos in our regular newsletter, Lifeline. Do you already get Lifeline? Would you like a copy? 7. Can I name the cow/ goats/ sheep I have bought? No, I’m afraid this isn’t possible. The donation you made will be spent where the need is greatest. To match donations to livestock gifts would significantly increase administration costs, so less of your donation would go to the families you want to help. However, recipients treat their donated animals like a new family member, so they are usually very keen to pick some wonderful names for their animals. They often choose names that translate as things like Hope, Comfort or Loved One, which demonstrates how important your donation is to their lives. 8. Can I visit my recipient / group? No, I’m afraid this isn’t possible. The donation you made will be spent where the need is greatest. To match donations to recipients would significantly increase administration costs, so less of your donation would go to the families you want to help. Our staff in Africa wouldn’t have the time or the resources to manage such a trip – it would distract from the work they do with the poor families we are working with. However, Send a Cow does keep in contact with all the families we help through our African offices. All beneficiaries get regular visits from extension workers and other staff. We print stories and photos about many of them in our regular newsletter, Lifeline. Do you already get Lifeline? Would you like a copy? I’m afraid we don’t need volunteers from the UK on our projects. We employ people with specialist skills in animal husbandry, sustainable organic farming or social development, and it is best if they come from the relevant communities themselves and speak the local language. If you would like to volunteer in a developing country, have you tried approaching Voluntary Service Overseas? They specialise in such volunteer placements. Go to their website http://www.vso.org.uk/ or phone them on (0)20 8780 7500. We are always looking for volunteers in the UK to help raise funds for us. These volunteers have the opportunity to pay to go on a study tour to develop their skills and knowledge about our work. Would be interested in finding out more? 9. Can I send one of my own cows? Send a Cow was started by farmers each donating a cow from their own herds, so we can appreciate why you would want to make such a generous offer. However, we currently purchase all livestock within Africa and to deliver a single cow from the UK would be cost prohibitive. What we have suggested in the past, is that people who want to donate a cow to Send a Cow, sell a cow at market and donate the money to us. Does this sound of interest? 10. Why do you no longer provide fish / pigs? We do provide fish and pigs, but only in small quantities. Our fish project is currently a small pilot scheme in Tanzania, and we currently have sufficient funds to manage it. When the fish project becomes part of the full country programme, or when we start to provide fish in other countries, we will put the gift of fish back into the catalogue. Pigs could potentially compete with very poor families for food. So we only donate them in areas where we are sure this won’t happen. Pigs are also susceptible to African Swine Fever. Because of these problems, we give very few pigs, so we do not currently feature them in the catalogue. 11. Why are you featuring poultry in your Catalogue? What about bird flu? We did stop giving poultry for a time due to fears about bird flu. However, to date there have been only isolated cases, and not the large-scale outbreaks that had been feared. Of course, we are still monitoring the bird flu situation very carefully, and following guidelines from the relevant authorities in each country where we work. Many poor families in Africa continue to rely on poultry to help them make a living – just as farmers in the UK and elsewhere are continuing to keep chickens, and consumers are still eating chicken meat and eggs. Many poor families in Africa are continuing to ask us for chickens, and we always prefer to give families the animals they ask for, unless there are good reasons not to. Poultry are useful for farmers with little land, and are easy to care for. So they are great gifts for very poor families, such as orphan households. We have looked at the situation carefully, and decided that the benefits to the family – such as better nutrition and an income – currently outweigh the risks of bird flu. When we give animals, we also give training in how to spot signs of illness, and in good hygiene. Furthermore, farmers will pass this training on to their friends and neighbours who already own poultry. So we believe that our poultry programme can go some way to reducing the risk of a large-scale outbreak of bird flu or other disease, rather than exacerbating it. 15. I’m a vegetarian. Can you guarantee that my donation won’t be spent on livestock? We cannot restrict your donation to a type of gift – only to a specific country. However, all our country programmes involve livestock in some way. Our programme in Lesotho has a particular emphasis on the development of organic vegetable gardens, but we do still provide smaller livestock such as dairy goats there. This is because the manure they provide is key to enabling farmers to grow organically. Livestock is extremely useful to poor farmers across Africa. It enables them to develop integrated livestock systems, where manure is used to enrich poor quality soils so they can grow crops. I am sorry we cannot earmark your donation for non-livestock gifts, but I hope you understand that it would be very difficult for us to administer your gift in this way. [For more on vegetarian issues, click here] Gift Aid Questions 1. What is Gift Aid Gift Aid allows a charity to claim from the Inland Revenue the basic rate of income tax on a donation made by a tax-paying donor. This means that we can claim an extra 28p for every £1 you give. As long as you are a UK taxpayer, all you have to do is give a simple Gift Aid declaration. 2. Why do I need to give a declaration? The declaration is our authority to reclaim tax from the Inland Revenue on your gift. By giving the declaration, you are confirming that you understand this. 3. What are the benefits? Gift Aid is a great way of boosting donations whatever their size, at no extra cost to you, the donor, and with minimal extra administration for Send a Cow. A single Gift Aid declaration covers any number of donations made since 6 April 2000. 4. Who is eligible? For a donation to qualify for Gift Aid, you must be a UK taxpayer. You must pay enough income tax or capital gains tax to at least equal the amount of tax Send a Cow will claim on your donations made in that tax year. A Tax year runs from 6 April; to the following 5 April. Send a Cow will claim from the Inland Revenue 28p for every £1 given. So, if you give £100 in a tax year, you must have paid at least £25 in tax (following the reduction in income tax from 22 to 20%), the amount Send a Cow can claim from the Inland Revenue. 5. Which donations are NOT eligible for Gift Aid? The Inland Revenue does not allow us to reclaim Gift Aid on your donation if you told us that: The donation was on behalf of someone else or a group of people. You can only make a Gift Aid declaration on your own donation. You cannot make a Gift Aid declaration on behalf of someone else, even if they are themselves a UK taxpayer. The only way around this is to ask each person to complete a declaration on the amount they have donated. We can supply collection envelopes, which do make provision for Gift Aid. See Question 9. The donation was made on behalf of a company. If you are making a donation on behalf of a company, or using a company credit card, the donation is not eligible. However, the company is entitled to claim tax relief on the donation, this needs to be performed at the end of each tax year. If the charity holds a valid declaration, they will automatically go ahead and claim all eligible donations unless the donor informs the charity that a particular donation is not eligible. 6. How do I make a declaration? In writing, orally, or when making an online donation. You can download a donation form, fill it in and post it to us with your donation. You will find a Gift Aid declaration at the bottom of the form. And don't worry if you've already donated to us and forgotten to Gift Aid your donation. Simply download a giftaid form, fill it in and send it to us and we'll do the rest. Declarations are also found on the order form section of our Gift Catalogues. You can also make a declaration orally. In this case we are obligated to send you a written record and all you need do is check that the details are correct. 7. Does a gift I make jointly with someone else qualify for Gift Aid? Yes, but you must tell us how much is from each of you. You will both need to give declarations if the whole amount is to qualify. 8. Can Gift Aid be applied to sponsorship? Yes - Gift Aid can apply to your sponsorship donations. You simply need to indicate this on the sponsorship form. However, remember to include details of your full name, your home address (including postcode) & tick the Gift Aid box. We need this information to certify that you are a taxpayer to enable us to reclaim 28% extra. If you are being sponsored for an event please request a sponsorship form from us or download one and this will enable your sponsors to Gift Aid their contributions. 9. Can I use Gift Aid to donate the proceeds of a fundraising event? We cannot normally claim the gift aid portion of this type of donation, as the collection will be made up from many individuals, some of whom may not pay tax. To claim on the whole amount we would require a valid declaration from each of the individuals who donated. We can supply you with collection envelopes, which do make provision for gift aid and ensures that we make the most from the donation. If you have been sponsored for an event, and each sponsor has signed a Gift Aid declaration, then we can recover the tax on the amounts covered by declarations. 10. Can I cancel my Gift Aid Declaration? If you wish you can cancel your declaration at any time. Please let us know if you no longer pay sufficient tax to cover the tax that we reclaim. The cancellation will take effect from the time we receive your letter. 11. How can I find out the amount Gift Aid will add to my donation? You can find out how much your donation is worth on the following website http://www.itforcharities.co.uk/gaidcalc/hightax.htm You can use the calculator here to see just how much more your donation to Send a Cow will be worth if you sign up to Gift Aid. 12. Can my gift aid portion go towards a specific gift No 13. How is gift aid affected by the lower income tax rate that begins in the financial year 2008/09? Send a Cow, along with all other charities, had feared that the new lower income tax rate would lead to a substantial drop in income, as we would not be able to claim as much back in Gift Aid. However, it was announced in the Budget in March 2008 that the changes will not affect Gift Aid for the next three years, despite the new lower income tax rate. So we can continue to claim 28p for every pound you donate, if you gift aid your donation. However, from 2011 onwards, we will be able to claim back only 25p in every pound. Animal welfare answers 1. Do you really ‘send cows’? Are the animals you donate transported humanely? When we first started, we sent cows from the UK to Africa. Then there was a ban on importing European animals into Africa after the BSE outbreak of 1996. So we now source our animals within Africa. This also supports local markets and reduces transport costs. The majority of animals we buy are not transported long distances, although we have recently imported a few very good quality goats and cows into Uganda and Rwanda from South Africa. We always do our best to ensure they are well cared for in transit. They are transported in vehicles that provide enough space for them to stand normally, and they are given adequate food and water. There are more details in our Animal Wellbeing Policy. Would you like me to send you a copy? 2. Will you need to return to exporting livestock from the UK to maintain quality? / Couldn’t AI work? Good quality livestock can be difficult to find in Africa. Plus, there are currently import restrictions in place between some neighbouring African countries to prevent spread of animal diseases. We are currently fulfilling some of our requirements by importing livestock from South Africa. In the longer term, it is likely that African countries will soon allow imports of UK cattle again. In this case, we may look into sending a few shipments of dairy cattle from the UK. These would mainly be used for breeding purposes, to improve the genetic stock of animals in an area. It is unlikely we would be able to improve the genetic quality of stock fast enough through the use of AI alone. AI services in Africa are not widely available and AI takes significantly longer to achieve the same results. The provision of a pregnant heifer will result in two quality livestock for a family, and access to milk, within just a few months of its arrival. We always do our best to ensure they are well cared for in transit. They are transported in vehicles that provide enough space for them to stand normally, and they are given adequate food and water. Maintaining animal wellbeing at all times, not just during transit, is a core objective of Send a Cow. There are more details in our Animal Wellbeing Policy. Would you like me to send you a copy? 3. How do you make sure the animals are not treated cruelly? It is in families’ interests to treat their animals well as they benefit enormously from them. All beneficiaries learn animal husbandry in their training courses before they are given livestock. They also sign a contract with their Send a Cow group, which outlines their responsibilities. We also employ extension workers, who monitor animals’ health and wellbeing after they have been given to a family. All families given livestock are part of a community group, which will also monitor the wellbeing of animals received by its members. It is rare, but it has been known for groups to remove animals from those that are not caring for them properly and place them with a more caring member of the group. Our beneficiaries only have small land holdings, so it is easy for extension workers and other group member to check animals are living in a good environment. Our stall feeding policy means that farmers owning as little as 1 ½ acres have enough room to build a light and airy shed, sufficient to house their animal and provide it with a spacious exercise yard. The average life expectancy of a cow donated by Send a Cow is much greater than that of a cow in the UK. We also recommend that small livestock, such as rabbits and cane rats, have spacious, light and airy shelters and that the same preparation and ongoing care applies. Would you like us to send you a copy of our Animal Wellbeing Policy? 4. Can cows give milk without having to give birth to a calf? Isn’t it cruel to keep them in calf so they keep lactating? Cows, like other mammals, only begin producing milk to feed their young. It is natural for cows to have a succession of calves, and to continue producing milk when pregnant. Send a Cow animals do not have any more calves than they would naturally. We train recipients in how to manage the cows’ natural breeding and lactation cycles in the best interests of the cow and calves. That includes allowing the cow a “dry period” (ie not milking the cow) for two months before her next calf is born, so she can produce a lot of good quality milk for a long time afterwards. It is always in families’ interests to ensure the health and wellbeing of the cow and calves. Would you like a copy of our Animal Wellbeing policy? 5. How can poor families feed their animals? Is there competition between animals and humans for food? Why are pigs no longer in the gift catalogue? Before giving any animals, we spend a long time working with Send a Cow groups on deciding what livestock is best in that area and for different families. We only donate animals to families with enough land to provide fodder for their animals, and enough time to care for them. We also train beneficiaries in how to grow fodder and all the other skills necessary to care for their animals. If necessary, we give them a packet of fodder seeds to get them started. Most of the animals we provide are ruminants, which eat grass and other fodder plants. So they do not eat the same food as humans. Chickens are only placed in areas where there are lots of affordable sources of chicken feed. They do not eat much, however, and can forage for food, so have never proved a problem. Pigs could potentially compete with very poor families for food. So we only donate them in areas where we are sure this won’t happen. Pigs are also susceptible to African Swine Fever. Because of these problems, we give very few pigs, so we do not currently feature them in the catalogue. 6. I’m a vegetarian. Why do you give livestock and not just crops and training? Mixed livestock and crop farming is a traditional and extremely widespread way of life in Africa. People tend to have at least a basic grasp of the necessary skills. Most very poor people aspire to own livestock, and it is what they ask us for. Livestock eat grass and farm by-products that cannot be used directly by people. They convert such fodder into milk, eggs or meat – a valuable source of protein for humans. Dairy products are a very effective way of restoring malnourished people to health, fast. Furthermore, animal manure is an excellent way of enriching the soil. This means that farmers can grow much higher yields of crops, as well as more varieties. These crops form the bulk of their diets. They can also use animal urine as a pesticide. This means they don’t need to buy commercial brands, and can instead farm organically. Farmers are able to sell milk, eggs or meat from their livestock. This income can help them lift themselves out of poverty. By keeping animals as well as crops, farmers spread their risks. Large animals can also be used to transport goods to market, or plough fields. Would you like a copy of our Animal Wellbeing Policy? 7. Are the animals you donate ever eaten? Are they slaughtered humanely? Beneficiaries invest a great deal of their own time, love and effort in their gifts. Most female animals are seen as far too precious to be eaten, because of the eggs or milk they produce. Their manure is used to enrich the soil too. They might be killed for meat once their productive life has ended. However, many families keep them on for the manure they produce. Families are likely to eat the male offspring of their animals, or sell them for meat. And we do give some animals primarily for their meat: rabbits and grasscutters, for example. Our staff in Africa manage all projects very carefully to make sure that all animals are treated well – and provide veterinary assistance to ensure that, where possible, animals remain disease free. Families would not eat an animal that has died of a disease. Animals are generally killed on the farm, so are spared the stress associated with being transported to an abattoir. Would you like a copy of our Animal Wellbeing policy? 8. What happens if the animal dies? We do our best to replace any animal that dies, although our staff in Africa will check first that it did not die due to maltreatment or neglect. This has never been the case. We also sometimes replace animals if their milk yield is not high enough. We give beneficiaries thorough training in looking after their animal and spotting problems. We also employ extension workers to keep an eye on them. So our gift animals usually live long and healthy lives. Would you like a copy of our Animal Wellbeing policy? 9. The oxen in the photos in your materials look like they are being mistreated. Why do you give oxen? Oxen are well capable of heavy work like pulling a plough. Farming families in Africa do not have access to tractors, so without oxen they have to open up land for sowing by hand. This is extremely tough work, particularly for the many elderly widows we help. Children also have to help out before going to school. Without oxen to pull ploughs, much less land is cultivated and far less food crops grown. Oxen also enable farming families to open up their land promptly, so they get the most out of each growing season. We train farming families in techniques such as animal husbandry and correct ploughing methods. We also provide them with suitable yokes and ploughing equipment, or give them guidelines on how to construct appropriate equipment to high standards using traditional methods. It is in families’ interests to keep their animals happy and healthy so they are productive for as long as possible. All our programmes have associated livestock experts. These check animals, and look for signs of ill-health. They have not reported any signs of discomfort in the oxen caused by the yokes or overwork. Some supporters have commented that the pair of oxen in photos in our catalogues look mismatched in size. They have raised concerns that this means the smaller oxen would not be able to keep up with the bigger one. However, in the original photo it is clear that the oxen are the same size, but one is standing in a furrow. We are proud of our animal wellbeing policy. Would you like us to send you a leaflet about it? 10. How are poultry cared for in your projects? We take animal welfare very seriously. We have long had an animal wellbeing policy in place, and we are working with external animal welfare organisations to update, improve and implement this policy. Our poultry projects are monitored regularly by livestock experts, who look out for any signs of maltreatment or distress. Our aim is to become standard leaders in the countries where we work. Many of the countries where we work are producing their own organic and animal welfare standards, and we are committed to these. UK standards, such as those set by the RSPCA, are not always applicable in an African situation. For example, bird flu is endemic in much of Africa; and keeping chickens free range puts them at greater risk from the virus, which can be spread by wild birds. Therefore, we generally promote enclosed shelters with outside runs. We encourage farmers to vaccinate their poultry and provide medical treatment for any illnesses. We also train farmers to give good quality feed to their poultry ; and keep them well protected. Often, neighbours of families helped by Send a Cow will copy these methods, so better practice spreads. When cared for properly, poultry provide: eggs to sell and to malnourished families to health; droppings to fertilise fields; and male chicks to sell for meat. Many families we work with report that their chickens have enabled them to send their children to school; to repair their homes; and to grow more crops. Programme Answers 1. How many people have you helped/ How many animals have you donated? We help over 13,000 households a year. There are an average of 6 people in each household. Our work has a significant multiplier effect, so for every person we train we estimate that 10 more benefit. Most of our beneficiaries report that their neighbours ask them about – and adopt – their new crop growing techniques. We also know the wider community benefits through the increased availability of milk, vegetables and fruit, as well as jobs in some cases when farmers employ people to help them work. So by training one person, a whole community can benefit. We encourage this process by training some farmers in peer training methods, so they can pass on their new skills to their communities. We are currently devising ways of recording pass-ons and this multiplier effect to document more accurately the number of people we have helped. In terms of the number of animals we have given, many families have received more than one animal each. For example, we normally give two or three goats to each family, and several chickens. Although we have been in existence since 1988, we were a very small charity until 1999. Since then, we have expanded rapidly, and we now help many more families per year than we did at first. Between April 2004 and June 2005, for example, we helped almost 1,800 families by giving them livestock. Our schemes gave out almost 6,000 animals in this time. In addition, some families receive training rather than livestock. For example, in the highlands of Ethiopia and Lesotho, our programme has concentrated on teaching people how best to grow crops in those regions, though we are now distributing livestock. We also run a ‘Breeding Bull’ scheme in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya means we provide a good quality bull for cross-breeding with local cows, to improve the quality of the offspring. We estimate the number of calves born from this scheme will run into the thousands. We also use these bulls to enable people who have received high quality cows from us to maintain similar quality in their cows’ offspring. 2. What types of gift do you provide? How do you make sure they’re suited to the climate where they’re going? Our main gifts are cows and goats. We also provide: breeding bulls and breeding goats; beehives; sheep; grasscutters; donkeys; draft oxen; rabbits; poultry; materials for building water storage tanks; fruit trees; medicinal trees; and fodder trees. Probably the most important gift of all is the training we provide, in animal care, natural sustainable organic farming techniques, group management, hygiene and family planning, and many other topics. We have different projects to suit different areas. For example in the Ethiopian highlands, the climate suits apple trees, which would not grow in many other areas where we work. We buy our animals locally, so they are suited to the area’s climate. We usually buy cross-breed cows, which combine the high milk yields of good quality dairy cows with the ability to withstand local conditions in Africa. We do give some pure-bred cows, but only in areas where we know they will fare well. We work with local groups on deciding what is most needed, and respond to their requests. Our local staff are also well-placed to work out what gifts would work in different areas. 3. How do farmers store the milk? Most families boil milk to destroy any harmful bacteria and consume or sell it on the same day. It is commonplace in many of the countries where we work that families will drink milk in the form of a milky tea or consume it in a type of porridge. Some families will also process their milk to make cottage cheese and butter, particularly in Ethiopia where milk based products are often the only source of animal protein for families. In Zambia many farmers will sour their milk. Increasingly Send a Cow is working with groups that are looking to set up cottage industry processing organisations, whereby groups get together and set up a savings scheme to purchase storage facilities, giving them the opportunity to market dairy products such as yoghurt and butter. 4. I’ve heard that many Africans are lactose intolerant, is this true? According to the World Health Organisation, a clinically significant milk intolerance is rarely a problem - although a very mild milk intolerance (in terms of feeling slightly bloated) may occur in a person when there is a long period between receiving mother’s milk and starting to drink cow’s / goat’s milk. To explain in more detail: You lose tolerance to lactose the longer you don’t have it in your diet, for instance if it is not possible to move from mother’s milk to drinking cow’s / goat’s milk. This is common in Africa and although milk intolerance is not naturally genetically inherited, it can become a genetic issue when generations have not had access to milk. This is probably why you have heard that Africans are lactose intolerant. However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives for the many malnourished families we are working with. Milk brings much-needed nutrition to very poor diets. It provides children with all the vitamin B12 and around half the calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B2 they need in a day, as well as being a source of vitamin A. Over time, the gradual reintroduction of dairy products in progressively greater quantities tends to improve the ability to tolerate lactose. So, children brought up on a diet that includes dairy products will be less likely to be lactose intolerant as adults. 5. Don’t animals, especially goats, cause erosion in many parts of Africa? All the animals we give are properly controlled. We give all the families we work with thorough training in how to manage their animals, and we check that they have built suitable shelters before we place any animals. Generally, larger animals such as cows are stall fed. This means the animal is not allowed to roam freely, which can cause erosion, but is kept in a roomy shelter and has food brought to it. This also means that farmers can easily collect their animals’ manure and urine to use on their soil to grow better crops. We train them in these techniques. Some animals, for example local cows, are not stall fed. They may be grazed – but always under close supervision, to ensure they do not eat crops or harm the land. We train our farmers to provide night shelters and supplementary forage feeding. This practice enables them to collect manure to make compost, and also provides security for the animals. The supplementary forage feeding improves the animal’s health and productivity. Often, neighbours of the families we help will adopt the shelters and feeding methods that we teach. So in fact, we are spreading good practice. We also train farmers in many other sustainable farming methods. These include how to prevent and combat problems such as soil erosion by terracing land and harvesting rainwater, so it does not flow off and take the topsoil with it. So our work helps the environment, rather than harms it. 6. How do you select recipients? Why are so many of them women? Established groups, such as church organisations or women’s groups, usually hear about Send a Cow through word of mouth and approach us for help. Our African staff look at the group carefully, to see if it is suitable. They check that it has clear aims, and that its members work together well and care about one another. If our staff decide the group could benefit from our programme, they then help them decide which members should be the first to receive livestock. In some cases, we do work with a community who have never worked together as a group before. The group and Send a Cow staff discuss which members should be the first to receive animals. Groups in Africa tend to have a deep understanding of community needs, so members are happy to see poorer neighbours helped before themselves. Our beneficiaries are always chosen on the basis of need. We do not choose people on the basis of their religion, gender or ethnicity. This means that the majority are women, as women are usually the poorest in any community. We work with a lot of widows, and a lot of women who have taken in orphaned children. In the case of poor couples, the man frequently has to work outside the home – often many miles away. So it is more practicable to train the woman. However, if a woman is trained and given an animal, her whole family benefits – including her husband, if she has one. We encourage women and men to share equally in decision-making, the work involved and the benefits the livestock brings. 7. What happens if the husband takes the animal? All Send a Cow beneficiary families sign a contract with Send a Cow and their community group before they receive animals. This sets out the conditions of ownership of the animal. The gift is placed with the whole family. If a husband (or wife) was to take the animal away from the family, that could be a breach of contract. We would discuss the issue with the family concerned and the community group’s chairperson. Probably, the group leadership would decide to take back the animal and give it back to the family. We carefully monitor all our projects, and we have never yet encountered this scenario. 8. Are you going to expand into different countries? How do you decide which countries to work in? We are always alert to the potential of countries where we could start new programmes. There are a number of factors that decide where we could work. We need to be sure that projects would be successful in a new country. Although our programme is quite flexible, it does require people to be settled, with at least a little bit of land, and to be able to feed their animals. So we do not usually work in urban areas or war-torn areas – though we do have a programme in northern Uganda. We have a duty of care to all staff employed by Send a Cow, and have to make sure they are not working in areas which would be dangerous. We began in Uganda because of a specific link with a church group there. We formed other partnerships in neighbouring countries, and expanded our programme there. We often expand to places where we have already developed links with partners. We also work closely with other charities in a global network of livestock development organisations. 9. How does pass-on work? Initially a whole group will be trained together. Wherever possible all will receive a livestock gift, although in some cases we will provide a percentage of the group with the gift, knowing that every member will ultimately receive a gift through pass on. Other groups will then receive training ready for pass-on of livestock from the original group. We will also train some particularly effective farmers in ‘peer farming’ techniques, so they are able to train new recipients themselves. By the time a region is looking to pass-on third or fourth generation offspring there will be many ‘peer’ farmers that will take on the role of training new recipients. Send a Cow will remain involved until it is satisfied groups are managing their land and their livestock (where appropriate); that the the pass-on process is properly managed; and that there is an effective peer farmer network in place. This can sometimes take as long as long as 5-10 years. This process is key to the long-term sustainability of the programmes. 10. How does the pass-on principle work for bees or fruit trees? Gifts of beehives are repaid once the recipients have sold their first honey harvest. They pay money into a group fund, which is then used to buy more beehives to give to other group members. Gifts of apple tree saplings are repaid by passing on the saplings generated from the original gift saplings. 11. What topics do beneficiaries learn in their training courses? All beneficiaries are given training before they receive an animal. This includes: o Animal husbandry, so they can care for their animal and spot signs of disease. o Animal feeds, so they can grow fodder for their livestock. o Organic farming, so they can use the animal’s manure to grow better crops to feed their families. o Environmental issues, so they know how to conserve water and increase soil fertility. o Credit, savings and business skills, so they can manage the money they make from the sale of eggs, milk etc. o Family nutrition and family planning, to keep the family healthy. o Group dynamics and management, so their group functions well and ensures the project’s success. o Gender issues, so that women and men can make decisions together and become equal partners. We also offer ongoing training courses on topics suggested by farmers. A lot of training is carried out in villages, so farmers can see its relevance in the context of their own lives. This may be backed up by short residential courses at specialist centres, such as St Jude’s Centre in southern Uganda, and the Gako Centre in central Rwanda. Some is provided by our own staff, and some by relevant government staff or local training centres. In some countries, we are training “peer farmers” – people chosen from within their communities to deliver on-going training within the group. We regard training as just as important as livestock. 12. What training do you give in water storage? / What other practices do you teach for times of drought? There is a common misconception that Africa is just one large desert – when in reality it is a huge continent with diverse climates, landscapes and rainfall patterns. We work in all types of environments – tropical and sub-tropical, semi-arid, and mountainous – and only provide livestock suitable to these environments and the associated rainfall patterns. If there is not enough water, we won’t provide livestock. In countries where water is scarce, there can often be an extended dry period followed by a torrential downpour. Send a Cow’s training helps farmers ‘trap’ this water on their land – either by improving the quality of soil through organic farming practices (so rain soaks into it, rather than running off it) or through simple water harvesting techniques. Our water harvesting techniques include the provision of materials for groups to dig their own water catchment ponds and simple ‘around farm’ practices such as the introduction of water tanks that can collect up to 10,000 litres of rainwater as it runs off the roofs of houses. We also provide training in producing cheap gravity fed trickle-irrigation systems using old lengths of punctured hosepipe. For times of extended drought our training includes hay and silage making and the storage of dried foods, to help families feed themselves and their livestock. 13. Don’t farmers in Africa already farm “organically”? What do you mean by “organic or sustainable farming”? Sustainable agricultural practices are natural methods that meet the needs of present-day farmers without damaging the potential of the land for future generations. Over the years, many traditional farming methods in Africa have fallen into disuse, often because people have adopted unsuitable western methods of farming. Often, the result is that farms deteriorate over time. Our sustainable farming training brings these techniques back. But it also improves upon these methods, and brings in ideas from other areas, or new techniques that have been developed. Some problems, such as erosion, might be new in an area, so farmers won’t have learned ways of combating them from their parents or grandparents. Sustainable farming techniques include: using manure to make compost and enrich soil; making pesticides from animals’ urine; making a bag garden that conserves water. The result is a massive increase in crop yields. Farmers report they can triple or quadruple the amount of food they can produce, and can grow varieties they never thought possible – such as pineapples. Would you like a copy of our Natural Gardening leaflet? 14. What help do farmers get with their animals once they’ve been trained? All farmers get support for as long as they need it: either from an extension worker, or from a Community Animal Health Worker. Extension workers are usually qualified and experienced animal husbandry workers. They can often treat animals themselves, or get help from government vets. They can also give farmers advice. All beneficiaries belong to a community group, which offers mutual support. Community Animal Health Workers are members of that community group, who have been trained by Send a Cow. These workers are supported directly by Send a Cow staff and the local government vets. Farmers can also get extra training: one-day refresher courses, for example. Members of the community group also offer mutual support. We work to build up the capabilities of these groups, so that in time they can provide all the support farmers need and will not require our help. Even then, our staff will be available if particular problems arise that a group feels it cannot tackle on its own. 15. What organisations does Send a Cow work with? The main organisation that we work with is Heifer International, which has offices in the US and several other countries (not the UK). Our approaches are fundamentally the same: we have similar aims and visions, and share similar values to those of our Cornerstones (which can be found on our website). In Kenya Send a Cow’s programme is managed by Heifer. In Ethiopia, Send a Cow is the managing organisation. In Cameroon Send a Cow funds part of Heifer’s programme. Some of the organisations we work with in Africa are: the Kulika Trust, Sunarma, Christian Children’s Fund, the National Union of Disabled People of Uganda, and St Jude’s Organic Farming Training Centre. We also have close links with government ministries in each country. In the UK, we’re a member of BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development), the UK Food Group, and the Trade Justice Movement. 16. How does the relationship between Send a Cow and Heifer International work? There is very little actual difference between the two organisations. It’s more a difference of emphasis. Heifer does more work supporting micro-enterprise development. Send a Cow focuses more on organic farming practices. Both work with farmers of any religion or none. We are looking at developing joint programmes in new countries, and both organisations are keen to learn from one another. 17. What happens when only a few people in a village receive livestock? Does it create jealousy or tensions? Not everyone wants to join a group, because of the commitment and effort required. Recipients have to build a shelter, grow fodder and attend a training course before they even receive an animal. Though we are always involved in such discussions, we encourage the groups we work with to decide for themselves which members are the most in need, so will get the first livestock. This reduces the chance of any resentment. Even those who do not get livestock can benefit. We encourage beneficiaries to teach their neighbours the sustainable farming techniques and other skills they have learned in their training courses. 18. What about families who don’t have enough land or money to look after cows? Families do need to have at least the use of a little land – enough to grow crops or keep a beehive on – in order to benefit from our programme. Most will need to invest some money in building a shelter for their animals – though we do help child-headed households with this. For most new projects, we help set up a revolving fund. Farmers can borrow from this to pay for essential goods for their animal, and pay the money back when they start to make a profit from their animal. For families that do not have much land or money we can donate gifts such as beehives, which do not need much land or care. We do not offer disaster relief – that is outside our remit. Would you like me to send you some animal fact sheets? You can also find out more on our website. 19. Why do Africans have such big families? Isn’t that why they’re poor? In most Africa countries, all support to an individual from birth to death comes from the family. People may have several children to ensure care and companionship when old, infirm or sick. Children do need to be fed, but also contribute to their families by carrying out household and farm chores. And, once older, the children will provide for their parent and older family members. In some cultures, children are seen as a blessing; the more children the greater the blessing. Families often welcome others into their homes, for example clan members from elsewhere. Families with a few more resources would be expected to care for those in greater need. Increasingly, families are taking in orphans, whose parents have died from HIV / AIDS or other causes. Even if parents wish to limit their family size, they have limited access to family planning services. Our training looks at cultural expectation as well as family planning; particularly important for those orphaned children who do not have the guidance of their parents. 20. How is Send a Cow funded? What is its income? Most of our money is from the general public: either individuals, or groups. Rotary Clubs, schools and churches are some of our biggest supporters. We have about 40,000 supporters currently on our database. We also get institutional funding from the Department for International Development and Comic Relief. In the past, we have been helped by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Between June 2008 and June 2009, our income was £3.9m. Most of that rise has been due to increased support from the general public. 21. How do you guard against corruption? Do you work with governments? Our remit is to give practical help in the form of livestock and training directly to community groups. Our staff in Africa buy our gift animals themselves. They do not entrust large sums of money to anyone outside Send a Cow, including the government. Only small amounts of money are given to community groups, to set up loan funds. All our projects are carefully financially managed, by staff with relevant training and qualifications. We also train beneficiaries in basic book-keeping and other financial skills, so they are able to monitor the group loan fund too. Although we have excellent working relationships with local and national governments, we do not work through local officials. Our accounts and country programmes are audited, and submitted to the Charity Commission. A summary is available in our annual report. Would you like a copy? 22. What do you mean when you say you are a Christian charity? Send a Cow was founded by a group of Christian farmers in response to a plea for help from an African bishop. Christian ideals underpin all our work. All our trustees are Christians, as are the majority of our staff. Anyone who works for us needs to be sympathetic to and comfortable with our Christian ethos. However, we welcome the support of non-Christians. Our work is essentially practical. We do not preach to, or try to convert, beneficiaries. We do not help only Christians. Many of our beneficiaries are Muslims or have traditional beliefs. No attempt is made to convert them. A minority of the groups we work with in Africa are church groups, but that is by no means always the case. We select beneficiaries according to need, not religion or race. You can read our Christian statement on our website, or would you like to be sent a copy? 23. Aren’t cows worse for the environment than cars? Intensive versus small-scale farming Many of the statistics you may have heard come from the report called Livestock’s Long Shadow by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, or from other research that applies mainly to animals kept in intensive farming systems in the developed world. There is a huge difference between that kind of agriculture, in which milk and meat yields override environmental concerns; and the type of small-scale sustainable farming system that Send a Cow promotes in Africa, where people live in harmony with their environments. Emissions/ flatulence/ burping/ manure One of the main environmental concerns is about emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from cows’ burping, flatulence or manure. Methane production is an unavoidable byproduct of rumination. Cows that are fed easily digestible food emit less methane. We train farming families in how to chop up specially grown fodder into small pieces and mix it with legumes, to make it more digestible. They also use mineral blocks containing urea and molasses, which further aid cows’ digestion. We also train families in compost management, so that manure emits less methane as it breaks down. Methane can even be captured in biogas digesters for fuel for families who have no access to mains electricity or gas. Deforestation Farmers who keep livestock are also accused of deforestation to create grazing land. This is simply not true of families supported by Send a Cow. They keep one cow, or just a few, and do not generally allow them to graze, but instead grow special fodder which is chopped up and brought to the animals in their shelters. Where animals are allowed to graze, it is under close supervision. They do not graze on specially created pastures, but instead on areas such as hillsides where little other than grass will grow. Farmers are actually planting leguminous fodder trees to feed their cows – up to 500 per cow. Like all trees, these soak up carbon from the air; and as they are leguminous, they also fix nitrogen. This means more carbon is captured and held in the soil, and more carbon is stored in the growing plants – rather than being released into the atmosphere. Water consumption Livestock is also accused of using up too much water. We only give families large livestock if they have a reliable water supply, and we also teach them water harvesting techniques. Families in areas without a good water supply might be given other gifts that need less water, such as sheep or poultry. All the fodder grown is rain fed only so is not using underground or stored water otherwise needed by humans. Farming families with livestock and training from Send a Cow use manure to increase the water holding capacity of the soil, so they can grow more crops using less water. Transport/ fossil fuels Some of the statistics about livestock’s effect on the environment factor in the carbon emissions from agricultural transport. Rural families supported by Send a Cow use virtually no motorised transport. Fossil fuels are used to make artificial fertiliser, emitting about three tonnes of carbon dioxide for every tonne of fertiliser produced. Farmers helped by Send a Cow use composted manure instead. Pollution By using composted manure, farmers can avoid artificial fertilisers which can pollute water supplies and deplete soils in the long term. They can also avoid artifical pesticides, as cows’ urine provide the basic ingredient for organic pesticides. Overview: Send a Cow is beneficial – not detrimental By training families in such methods as to ‘how to grow fodder and how to make compost’, Send a Cow is actually improving the existing agricultural situation in Africa. The farming families we train will pass on the methods they have learned to others in their wider community, who can then farm in a more sustainable manner. By supporting rural families with our sustainable agriculture programmes, we enable them to stay living on the land, eating locally produced food, and preserving the environment for future generations. 24. Why do you give rabbits? Won’t they escape from their hutches, breed rapidly, and devastate the crops? We give rabbits in Lesotho, where the environment is so harsh that families living in extreme poverty are unable to keep larger animals or grow much food. Rabbits are cheap and easy to keep, and their meat is extremely nutritious. They also provide families with manure, to increase the fertility of the land. Before giving any rabbits, we provide farmers with the materials to make secure hutches, and training in how to do so. We also provide farming families with training so they are fully aware of keeping their animals securely. In the unlikely event that a rabbit did escape, there are many rabbit predators in Africa. The rabbits we give are domesticated and unlikely to survive in the wild long enough to breed. We have only just begun giving rabbits in Lesotho, but we looked into it very carefully first. We asked other agencies who already give rabbits, who report positive results. We monitor all our projects closely, and to date there have been no reports of any escaped rabbits in Lesotho. 25. How does foot-and-mouth affect your work? We were founded by farmers and we retain strong links with the farming community. We are deeply concerned by the threat Foot-and-Mouth poses to rural communities in the UK. An outbreak in the UK does not, however, affect Send a Cow’s programme in Africa. We buy our animals locally in Africa, so are unaffected by any export ban. Although we have no record of there ever having been foot-and-mouth cases among our projects, the disease is endemic in Africa. Our veterinary staff in Africa are therefore well able to recognise the symptoms and take appropriate action, following internal procedures based on guidelines from the agricultural authorities in their country. Foot-and-mouth is not harmful to human health, and meat and milk from infected animals is safe to consume. Europe has a slaughter policy because of the devastating impact that the disease has on our higher production animals and farming systems. The majority of African farmers keep less productive local African animals, whose productivity is not as greatly affected by the disease. Most such animals will recover to reasonable health and productivity given time. Therefore, agricultural authorities in Africa contain outbreaks of foot-and-mouth until they run their course rather than eradicate the disease. African agricultural authorities generally run foot-and-mouth vaccination programmes when the need arises, and Send a Cow will support this procedure as required. The authorities do generally order a ban on movement of animals when an outbreak of an infectious livestock disease is reported. In that case, Send a Cow immediately implements measures to ensure we do not inadvertently aid transmission. However, the method of farming that we promote involves very little movement of animals from farm to farm, thus minimising the risk of livestock contracting or passing on the disease. We train farming families in how to stall feed their animals. This means that livestock are kept in roomy shelters and brought fodder, rather than allowed to roam freely. Furthermore, slaughtering of animals can take place on the farm, so animals do not need to be transported to abattoirs. If a purebred or crossbred cow or goat, such as Send a Cow normally gives, became infected, it could become very low-yielding. Depending on circumstances our staff would probably decide to replace the animal, once the outbreak had cleared. The risk that staff would bring back foot-and-mouth from a trip to Africa is miniscule, as the disease is not long-term resilient when exposed to the sun’s heat. Nonetheless it is our policy that staff take suitable disinfection procedures on their return, as a precautionary measure. 26. What do you do when there are land right issues? Land rights are different in all the countries and areas where we work, so we have to act on a case-by-case basis. Land rights are often an issue – particularly for women, who sometimes do not have the right to own land in their own name. Families do need to have the right to use, if not own, at least some land in order to benefit from our programme. We always work through community groups, who are able to advise us on any local land right issues. Through our projects, community groups often gain in confidence and the skills needed to deal with authorities, so are better able to demand their rights. In addition, we are starting to do more advocacy work, so could potentially offer groups direct help on land right issues. Some of our farmers have reported that projects have already had a positive effect. For example, in some areas of Kenya and Uganda, widows are traditionally expected to marry a member of their late husband’s family, giving their new husband ownership of the land. Some widows have reported that having a cow and in income means they can resist any pressure to do so. And in Ghana, local clan chiefs have given a project run by our partner Heifer some extra land to set up a mango planatation. The mango trees should provide a wind break that will benefit the whole village. 27. I would like to apply for help from Send a Cow/ I know of someone who would like help from Send a Cow. You need to apply to your local Send a Cow office for assistance. Send a Cow UK is not involved in deciding which groups to help. Before applying, you should consider whether the assistance we offer is appropriate for your group’s needs, and whether your group meets the basic criteria for assistance from Send a Cow. o Are you applying on behalf of a community group? We cannot help individuals. o Would your group benefit from livestock and sustainable agricultural assistance? We are a specialist charity working in those fields. o Are you based in a rural or semi-rural area? Our programmes are inappropriate for an urban setting. o Are the members of your group considered poor by local standards? o Are you based in one of the 10 countries in which we work? If you can answer ‘yes’ to all the above questions, you might qualify for assistance. However, please note that each office will have their own, far more detailed criteria. Even if you fulfil the criteria, we may not have the means to help your group. We get many applications for assistance, and sadly often have to turn groups down or put them on a lengthy waiting list. If you would like to apply, you should contact the relevant country director in the first instance. We know that our country directors do their best to reply to your emails. However, they are very busy, so we do ask for your understanding if they take some time to respond. Staff from country offices always carry out extensive assessments before agreeing to assist a group. Please note that even if you are visited by a member of Send a Cow staff, your application will not necessarily be successful. Even if we are not in a position to help you, we wish you every success with your project. 28. Why do you no longer work in Ghana? From the end of the financial year (June 2008) Send a Cow will be working in 9 countries in Africa. The country that we will no longer be working in is Ghana. We had committed to funding work with Heifer Project International (£15 000 a year) for three years and this is coming to an end in June 2008. Last year, Send a Cow's income dropped slightly to around £4.7m. Given our drop in income we have decided that Send a Cow will not start any new work in Ghana this year. However, Heifer International will continue to work in this country.
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