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Heifer International

Sustaining development through livestock.

Working in 129 countries.

Shaken by his experiences doling out rations to children during the Spanish Civil War, Dan West was convinced – long before conventional thinking caught up – that short-term relief was not a solution to solving persistent hunger. He started Heifer International over 65 years ago with a simple and holistic idea: to transform the lives of people in poverty – one family at a time. 

Heifer provides families with a ‘living loan’, that is, a donation of livestock, accompanied with training in animal husbandry, care and sustainable grazing methods. Each gift comes with a pledge – the receiving family must “pass on the gift” by transferring their knowledge and donating one or more of their animal’s female offspring to another family. The cyclical nature of the program ensures its ongoing sustainability. 

Working in over 125 countries around the globe, Heifer has seen tremendous success in China – where farmers have, together with Heifer staff, collectively identified target areas for community improvement as well as set up participatory co-operative groups to share skills and generate joint decision-making. Heifer’s inexpensive and uncomplicated formula for development has seen improvements in health, nutrition and income as well as increased gender equity and family values for its recipients across-the-board.

(Photo © Heifer International)