One Cow Can Change an Entire Community


by Jennifer James, ONEMoms in Kenya

Women are the backbones of Kenya. They are the ones who will feed the continent. They are the ones who will keep hunger at bay here. Their participation in the agricultural economy is vitally important to Africa’s future.

In Nakuru, Kenya we met Teresia Riungu, a dairy farmer who has managed to provide a living for herself in her retirement and has created enough work to employ others. Her small dairy farm is contributing to food security in her community as well as a food product that is nutritious for consumers which is important to the overall health of the country. Teresia Riungu through hard work, ingenuity, and spunk, has created an enterprise that has changed not only her life, but the lives of many others.

Teresia has been able to improve upon her dairy farm with the help of USAID. As a part of the five year Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program (KDSCP) that has been implemented by Land O’Lakes, Teresia has been trained to increase her milk supply, better feed her cows, improve upon breeding, and market her milk. Today her dairy farm produces 35 – 40 liters of milk per day and supplies cash flow to her on a daily basis. She earns $370 per month which is far above the one dollar a day that most Kenyans earn.

The Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program was designed to help small dairy farmers generate greater income through the sale of quality milk. Currently the KDSCP has reached 170,000 farmers, but its goal is to reach 300,000 farmers in order to create a competitive marketplace to sell milk straight to consumers, grocery stores and restaurants.

Land O’Lakes, who has worked in Kenya for ten years, targets women to help them form dairy cooperatives and work together to improve their household incomes. Teresia is a member of the Njoro Farmers Cooperative Society and has been since 2007. Due to the effectiveness of the collective, in 2005 the collective had 40 members and today there are over 400. Members of the collective, which is 60 percent women, were recently able to buy a two acre plot of land to build a processing plant. Now they are preparing to purchase a cooling facility instead of having to rent one.

These dairy collectives that you can find all over Africa, work because together the farmers are able to earn greater income by bulking their milk instead of selling it individually. Also, they have access to processing and cooling. Through the collective the farmers are also able to receive training on breeding, feeding their cows and growing more nutritious foods for the cows.

Before joining the collective, one of Teresia’s problems was losing her heifers to a shortage of food. Today she has a storehouse of hay that will last through the end of the year. She has also been trained to turn her heifer’s dung into methane gas that she will be able to use for lighting and cooking. This clean energy will enable Teresia to stop getting firewood and over time she will be able to have a small cooling facility on her own property.

Meeting Teresia showed us first-hand how well the program works. With three heifers and four calves, Teresia has earned enough to open her own bank account, an accomplishment she is extremely proud of. She no longer has to rely on her husband for money and is proud that she has a profit making small business to call her own.

Right now, 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are desperately in need of food, clean water and basic sanitation. As the bloggers meet with women farmers today, please sign our petition calling on world leaders to urgently provide full funding to help people in the Horn of Africa, who are suffering from the worst drought in 60 years.

Are you a mom? Help mothers like you fight extreme poverty around the world.

Photo by Karen Walrond


Rebecca Simon
Rebecca Simon5 years ago

i'm glad that this improves their living conditions but... i'm slightly concerned about the future of these programmes, regarding the animals... can we hope that economic and material expansion will avoid the trap of factory farming?

Rajnish Singh
Rajnish Singh6 years ago

good article.

caterina caligiuri

thanks for the article

Roopak Vaidya
Roopak Vaidya6 years ago

Treesa M., veg diets may seem "fashionable" in opulent parts of the west. They aren't in some poverty ridden parts of the planet.
In some parts of India, the poor eat simple veg diets, they go further and provide better nutrition at a lower cost. The rich eat "fashionable" beef steak, often with fancy French names after it. :)

...and the ones holding on to 'dear cows' - go to africa, live in their poverty and ASK them would they like fashionable veg diets or an income to build a better...

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

I have a better soulsion for Kenya. seeing how they have no qualms in toruring cows like the West does, why not just put factories there, and pay them in food.

it's more sad to turn a voiceless horse into a slave. all they can do is scream and kick.

you can feed your new human chattel and pay them. maybe one day the'll buy their own land and grow fruit.


Louis Gedo
Louis Gedo6 years ago

Colleen, what the brain requires to be healthy and grow is Omega 3, 6, or 9 fatty acids as well as complex and simple carbs. A variety of seeds and nuts provide adequate levels of EFA's, even for the large modern brain. Animal flesh provides no carbs. Human brain development is actually enhanced by a veg diet no matter how far back in time we go. The fact that those humans, many tens of thousands of years ago, who chose to eat fish - those who lived near the seas (allegedly leading to faster brain growth as some believe today) rather than other animals is irrelevant in determining human behavior in 2011. But there are some, like Jamie, who would like us to believe that what distant ancestral humans did 100,000 years ago should determine specifically how we behave today. To me, that sort of thinking is absurd. It's the same sort of irrational and very poor thinking that also attempts to rationalize carnism by claiming that "other animals eat animal flesh" therefore this makes it right for humans to choose the same behavior. Today, virtually every culture uses tools of our modern societies and / or benefits from the technologies developed by our most modernized societies. Kenyan's are no different in this respect. To even bring up what humans chose to eat in our very distant past like Jamie did shows the utter lack of understanding of what choices Kenyans can choose to make today. I say, let's keep this discussion current.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Cow power. Domestic meat and/or dairy animal is a viable ecological niche. The relation between humans and cows is symbiotic. There are some wild oxen. Domestic cattle do not much resemble wild oxen and would not exit without the symbiotic relationship with humans. "The Botany of Desire is a book about the symbiotic relationship between humans and certain domestic plants. Eating plants is lower on the food chain than eating animals--but still the basic principle is that either we domesticate plants and animals or we try to live as primitive hunter/gatherers. The carrying capacity of an area is much higher with domestic plants and animals than with only hunting and gathering.

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

how far back are we talking about? others said it was the fats in the meats that helped mankind go to wher we are know. and don't try to use claptrap about Neanderthal's lifespan.

OMG do know how long ago that was? do you think they had heated houses? good medical care? yes totaly. they had complex surgeries and had cabins with fireplaces back then.

and could make jams, pickles and store tubers and had bread.

Louis Gedo
Louis Gedo6 years ago

Jamie, your argument is insane. Using your same argument (that the means justifies the ends), you would have to also condone the exploitation (sometimes brutal) of enslaved or indentured humans because many important building projects in many parts of the world throughout history were accomplished through the instrumental use and abuse of sentient individuals without their consent. The greater the power, the greater the humility to be shown and the greater the responsibility to not abuse that power is. Might does not (and never will) make right. Just because we can exploit and can cause the violent demise of sentient individuals like cows as just one example, does not make it right and does not mean that it is morally responsible behavior to do so. Speciesism is just as unjust and irrational as racism, sexism, and ageism.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

If the vegans don't make cows illegal. Their real goal is to destroy any animal that is not wild. Meat played a crucial role in the brain development during evolution of the human species.