COW BANK BADGES LAUNCHED - HOPE (UK)
This September, a range of cow-shaped pin badges will go on sale at selected outlets across the UK to raise funding for the expansion of HOPE’s Cow Bank Program.
The principle behind this initiative is simple but effective. Each participating family is loaned a single cow for a period of approximately 18 months. This is enough time for the cow to become pregnant, give birth, and take care of their calf until it is mature enough to survive on its own. No money changes hands. The family’s monthly “payments” are simply made to ensure that the cow and calf are properly cared for. Among other things, each family agrees to build the cow a shelter, give it all the necessary vaccinations, provide food and water, not use the animal for draught labour during the pregnancy, and keep a close eye on the cow to prevent theft. The family is initially responsible for paying the fee to impregnate the cow (usually about US$5) which is paid to a local villager with a bull, and must also attend a week-long training session held by the Department of Animal Health. At the end of the 18-month cycle, the family keeps the calf and “repays” their cow, which is loaned to a new family. Each cow can be passed on in this way for about six years, at which point it is sold and the money used to buy a new animal.
In June 2006, Yeay Eoeun was one of twenty HOPE well users chosen to participate in the first cycle of HOPE Cambodia’s cow bank program. In early November, her cow was the first to give birth under the program. A bright smile flashes across her face when she talks about the calf, which she calls “beautiful.” When the male calf is old enough, she will sell it and buy a female of the same age, which she will breed. Future calves will also be used for breeding or will be sold for profit. In the meantime, the cows are providing Yeay Eoeun with fertilizer for her garden.
Since November 2006, nine more calves have been born to various families, with the rest expected to give birth in the coming months. Due to the success of the project’s first cycle, HOPE is expanding the cow bank program with 40 more families expected to receive cows and water buffalo.