Association Between Duration of Community-based Group Membership and Sustainable Livelihoods for Kenyan Women Dairy Farmers
AbstractKenyan community leaders called for strengthened sustainable livelihoods for farmers and in 1992 formed a self-help dairy group that was reorganized in 2009 to form the Wakulima Dairy Ltd. (WDL). At WDL, members sell surplus milk to the dairy and, through nongovernmental organization (NGO) partnerships, receive training to enhance dairy farm productivity. As a result, higher milk production has been reported; however, data are lacking on sustainability and livelihood outcomes of dairy training for women farmers. To inform future projects and interventions, our study objectives were to determine the relationships between dairy group membership and duration of membership, sustainable livelihood assets, household income, and food security. We thus conducted a cross-sectional survey of 88 WDL members (among four membership duration groups) and 23 nonmember farmers. Milk production and herd size were higher for greater-than-three-year members compared to nonmembers and one-to-three-year members. The proportion of households with an income from dairy of greater than 5,000 ksh/month (ranging from 0 to 40 percent), food security (ranging from 4 to 30 percent), and number of improved household characteristics (ranging from 1.7 to 3.3), were positively associated with longer membership duration. While the cross-sectional design does not allow attribution of causality, results suggested that WDL membership strengthened the livelihood assets of women farmers, particularly after three years, and that positive outcomes were sustained with longer membership duration. Anecdotally, women indicated that WDL's role in women's control of dairy income, regular payments, and food and services on credit, were important. WDL is a model to strengthen sustainable livelihoods through relevant gendered training, supports, and market access for agricultural products. Research to understand the optimal asset mix to benefit from dairy groups as well as factors limiting per-cow milk production is needed to guide future interventions and enhance the role of dairy farming for sustainable livelihoods.
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