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Super-goats to West Darfur

Shami goats in Sudan. Credit: Concern Worldwide
Shami goats in Sudan. Credit: Concern Worldwide
News27 May 2016

People in Sudan’s West Darfur region rely on agriculture as their main way of earning a living. And while it holds much potential, there is still support needed to make land and animals more productive.

We need to think creatively to help people there build the local economy and reduce poverty. That’s why we hatched an audacious plan – to fly 27 Shami goats to West Darfur from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Barbara White, who runs Concern’s work in Sudan, explains why the Shami breed is so much more useful than the goats usually found in West Darfur. She says: 

Shami goats are hardy, so they can survive in difficult environments – this will become more important every year as the effects of climate change grow. Their milk is high in protein too, which could be an important boost for the health of local people. And Shami goats are more likely than other breeds to have twins and triplets, which is great news for farmers.

Why not drive to Darfur?

We needed to buy the goats in Khartoum. But a journey by road from there to West Darfur by road would take weeks, and could be uncomfortable or even deadly for the animals. Flying was the only realistic option.

But making the plan a reality was not easy. We started with careful visits to goat farms in Khartoum, where Concern staff worked hard to buy the best animals at the best price.

And just like a family jetting off on holiday, the goats needed the right paperwork before they could set off. The documents even set out the colour of each animal.  Barbara says: “All this was months in the planning.”

Animal welfare

Although the flight was only set to take a few hours, we didn’t want the animals to be upset by the journey. That’s why we planned the flight with advice from animal charity Veterinaire sans Frontiere Germany, which has staff in Khartoum.

They gave us guidelines on how to transport the goats – right down to the amount of food and water they should be given before the plane takes off, to make the journey as comfortable as possible.

A map of Sudan.
A map of Sudan.

No time for duty free

After they touched down in Geneina – the state capital of West Darfur – the goats were given water and vitamins to reduce stress and tiredness. Then they were taken by truck on the final leg of the journey to communities in Mornei and Kulbus, watched over by vets from local government offices and Concern staff.

The animals were not given to individual farmers, but to community groups called village development associations. This meant the Shamis could breed with lots of local goats, creating a new generation of resilient animals due to the great features of their Shami parent. 

The arrival of tougher goats making more milk – and more babies – is good news for farmers in Darfur. In a part of the world that faces big challenges such as climate change, a single flight brought 27 reasons to smile.


This work was supported by the European Union and the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

Apoline Niyosenge is taught how to wash her hands properly by Concern community worker Abel Bamwisho, DRC. Photo: Pamela Tulizo

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