In 2010, Associate Professor Lesorogol launched a program “to give something back to the community” that has long embraced her and her work.
The Samburu are called “Loibor Nkineji,” the “Owners of White Goats,” but many have grown so poor that they do not own even one goat. Without goats, some Samburu have turned to selling firewood, charcoal and homemade beer and gin. Some rely on famine-relief supplies. With few skills, they are being pushed to the margins of Kenyan society.
Lesorogol, through the Center for New Institutional Social Sciences headquartered at Washington University, has begun to introduce Toggenburg goats (see picture above) to this community. These highly productive Swiss goats hold the promise of better nutrition and a better way of life. According to Lesorogol, they are easy to manage and produce up to four liters of milk daily versus the half liter of the indigenous goats. Further, they can be stall fed with locally grown fodder and grazed on small plots.
More milk means better nutrition — and less malnutrition — for children. The goats’ minimal grazing needs reduce child labor in herding, meaning more children can attend school. Further, households can earn income selling milk and goats and collecting breeding fees.