Small ruminants, mainly goats and sheep, can play a key role in helping farming communities adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. In Nyando, western Kenya where resilient cross breeds of these animals better adapted to changing feed and water conditions are being kept since 2014, the local community is already reporting additional income, with a positive impact on household food security.
‘Small ruminants are a route to better livelihoods in East Africa’, says Julie Ojango, an animal breeding scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). ‘Apart from poultry, goats and sheep are the only “livestock assets” over which women and youth tend to have control. They are also less labour intensive.
Sustaining the change being witnessed in Nyando, however, requires continually improving the productivity of goats and sheep under small holder farming systems.