For quite some time, Heifer International has proclaimed to be unique among all the other nonprofit organisations working around the world. And we are. What sets us apart is our model. We only enter communities upon invitation. We train project participants extensively and on a host of topics that range from animal husbandry to gender equity. But what really sets us apart is our strategy of Passing on the Gift.® It's an approach that has evolved over our nearly seven decades of work.
Recently Heifer has taken its proven model and scaled it to reach even more vulnerable people. As the world has become increasingly interdependent and globalised, and as hunger and poverty have reached unprecedented levels, the quest to end hunger and poverty requires supporting sound community-based work that builds social capital and business skills and knowledge that empowers the communities to take appropriate actions to achieve sustainability. There is also a global movement building coalitions of governments, the private sector, multilaterals, bi-laterals and foundations to find more effective solutions to end poverty and hunger, which creates new space for Heifer to forge partnerships with them. Scaling up program impact, expanding outreach to encompass other marginalised populations, and communicating impact rigorously and convincingly is the new global space for Heifer's internal work.
Heifer International is committed to ending hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth, and to living its core values by transforming itself to be a more coherent, unified and stronger organisation committed to providing deeper, more profound and sustainable impact through all its programs and projects.
Communities are the foundation of all Heifer projects. Whether it is a local group of people who are working together to improve their lives or a newly organised group coming together to address a pressing problem, these communities plan to change their future. In new projects, Heifer will retain this commitment to building communities while focusing work with the most vulnerable and marginalised populations who lack access to resources, services or opportunities, setting them on a path first to being less vulnerable and relatively food secure, and then to being resilient, sustainable and linked to markets.
When Heifer steps in, groups of at least 1,000 families are provided a values-based planning and management model to guide their development projects. The values-based planning and management model is founded on Heifer's 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development. The Cornerstones provide a meaningful context for Heifer's efforts because they stimulate group wisdom and personal insights, and they keep the group's actions balanced, focused and productive. As a result, the values-based model works in diverse settings for people with various levels of education and literacy. The model is highly participatory and emphasises local ownership of the decision making process; commitment of local resources; participation of all people regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion; inclusion of traditional, indigenous knowledge; understanding that community development is a process; and outsiders as facilitators of change.
Through the values-based planning and management model, communities decide what types of animals and production systems they want, who should receive animals and the type of training required to make their project successful. Livestock provide high-quality protein in the form of milk, eggs or meat; capital assets, which can be used as collateral for loans; inputs such as milk, honey, eggs orwool for microenterprises; draft power that increases crop yields; manure to fertilize crops; pack-power to transport water, firewood and people; and increased value and "living savings accounts" for project families.
Training and preparation for livestock often takes the entire first year of a Heifer project. Typical training includes preparations for livestock, training in animal health and husbandry, integration of livestock into the ecosystem, improvement of the environment, gender and family roles, nutrition, leadership, small enterprise management and accountability. Families prepare to receive their animals by building shelters and planting fodder. Training continues as required after livestock is placed with families. In particular, participants learn about Passing on the Gift®-when livestock recipients become donors, giving one or more of their original animals' offspring, or the equivalent to another in need-and the importance of sharing work and resources equitably. When the offspring reaches an appropriate age, it is passed on, typically with ceremony and celebration, from one family to another.
Heifer projects succeed because project members receive assets that produce knowledge, food and income. When combined with the commitment to Pass on the Gift, the project becomes sustainable. Projects strive to build community assets in five areas:
At the end of every project, Heifer evaluates the extent of lasting change brought by the effort using a specific evaluation process. Based on the evaluation, successful projects may be replicated in another community to broaden the impact.
As part of our new way of working, Heifer will also partner with governments, private sector organizations, other nonprofits, coalitions and networks to aid in delivering programs and services to the marginalized. While our projects now achieve the three levels of impact-below the ground, on the ground and above the ground-projects will work harder so that outcomes are more visible. The three levels of impact will include positive changes on social capital, gender equity, nutrition and income, economic development, environment, as well as individual and community transformation.
To find our more how Heifer;s model works around the world visit www.heifer.com