Send a Cow

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Send a Cow is a Bath, UK-based international development charity that works with poor African farmers to promote self-sufficiency through the development of small sustainable businesses based on growing and selling food .[1]

The charity is founded on Christian values.
It provides training, livestock, seeds and support to families to equip them to make best use of their land and resources.
The charity works in Africa; its beneficiaries include children orphaned by war, families affected by AIDS, and people affected by disability.


Send a Cow was founded in 1988 by a group of UK dairy farmers in response to European Union milk quotas which forced the slaughter of healthy dairy cows and an appeal for milk in Uganda.
Several farmers flew to Uganda to find out the best way for them to help. The country was emerging from a civil war which had destroyed communities, farmland and much of the country's livestock. Meeting with Ugandan farmers, the Bishop of Mukono, and a livestock expert enabled them to see that smallholder dairy farming in Africa would provide an instant source of nutrition through the production of milk.
On their return to the UK the farmers sent cows to Uganda from their own herds.

Although the initial aim was for communities to improve their livelihoods through milk production it soon became clear to Send a Cow that manure from cows was an even more valuable product. For the 70% of the poor people of Uganda who had poor quality soil for growing crops, manure was an ideal way to improve their land and raise their crop yields.

Send a Cow currently work in seven countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Rwanda, Zambia and Kenya. Send a Cow provides livestock, all of which is sourced from within Africa, training and ongoing support; all tailored to meet the diverse needs of the individuals, families and communities with whom the charity works.

In 2010, Prince Charles became President of Send a Cow for a period of five years.[2]

Farming and animals[edit]

Send a Cow provides livestock and training to African farmers

Send a Cow's philosophy is that making the best use of natural resources such as soil, crops, animals and water enables farming to be inexpensive, effective and sustainable. Send a Cow provides animals including cows, goats and poultry, training and ongoing support. Training is in: management of animals to limit the damage they do to land; care to keep the animals healthy and productive; and farming best practice to increase crop yield and lower costs, for example by using composted manure rather than buying commercial fertiliser. Send a Cow also provides business and marketing skills training to farmers who become able to produce vegetables, milk, eggs or meat over and above the needs of their own families so that they can run small businesses in their communities.

Sustainable agriculture[edit]

Send a Cow educates farmers in rural, semi-arid areas in Sub-Saharan Africa in the use of manure, and other soil and water conservation techniques, to get more out of their land and farm more sustainably, for example to plant trees rather than cut down forests to cultivate the land. A 2008 report by the charity stated that recent research in Uganda indicated that the ratio of carbon absorbed by trees and crops resulting from their programmes, to carbon emitted by the livestock provided by their programmes and the travelling done by their staff, was more than 2:1. [3] Send a Cow's Bath,UK headquarters has been participating in the 10:10 campaign [1] to cut emissions by 10% in 2010.

Social context[edit]

Most of those that Send a Cow works with are women who tend to be the poorest in their communities

Send a Cow believes in food security but its work is centred also on the wider aims of happier families, greater community spirit, greater gender equity, better health, housing and education, more spiritual fulfilment and greater dignity.

The charity aims to help people address lack of education, low self-confidence, isolation and prejudice by providing agricultural assistance, and the support and skills needed to make use of it.

Send a Cow's work in Africa is based on groups and the strong community spirit that characterises African society. Country staff are African and work closely with groups to decide how the charity can best assist the groups to operate more fairly and effectively.

The Pass It On principle[edit]

Sharing knowledge and skills is a unique aspect of Send a Cow’s work. Each farmer that receives training, seeds or livestock from the charity commits to ‘pass on’ the benefits to another needy family in the community strengthening communities and enables Send a Cow to benefit more people.

Communities attend Pass On ceremonies where next-generation animals, seedlings and skills are shared, giving poor people the opportunity to give to other people, lifting their self-esteem and transforming their community’s perception of them.

Research undertaken in Uganda by Bright World Consult showed that for every one farmer trained in sustainable organic farming, those practices are then adopted by an average of seven community members, when they see increased productivity on their neighbours' land.[4]

Millennium Development Goals[edit]

Send a Cow’s focus on food security and sustainable farming systems aims at a number of the Millennium Development Goals [2], the eight goals agreed by UN member states in 2000 to tackle world poverty.

Country projects[edit]


Uganda is rich in natural resources but affected badly by HIV/AIDS, conflict, floods and droughts.

Send a Cow began working in Uganda in 1988, and the country is its longest standing programme. Some of the farmers the charity worked with in the early years have become successful business owners and have adult children at university, providing evidence of lasting benefit. Send a Cow Uganda is now an autonomous organisation with its own trustees, largely funded by the UK operation.


In Rwanda, Send a Cow has helped many communities damaged by the Rwandan Genocide to work together to find solutions to poverty.

Send a Cow provides people in Rwanda with good quality cows, goats and smaller animals to replace livestock lost in the Genocide, and trains them in sustainable organic farming and environmental protection techniques.


The focus in Ethiopia is on training in natural resource management to reduce dependence on food aid between harvests: enabling farmers to make the best use of soil, rainfall and livestock to develop a productive farming system that does not harm the fragile environment.

Most families already own livestock, so Send a Cow does not often provide animals but instead trains farmers in how to manage their livestock better, keeping them healthy and productive.


Send A Cow introduced a pioneering vegetable-growing method called keyhole gardens in Lesotho, which produce food throughout the extremes of summer and winter.

Farmers benefiting from this effective method pass on the knowledge to their neighbours and diversity into new markets.

Send a Cow also provide some poultry, rabbits and goats. Milk from dairy goats is thought to be good for people with HIV/AIDS, which is about a quarter of Lesotho’s adult population.


Send a Cow provides support in the Western Province through its partner, the non-governmental organisation Heifer Kenya [3].


Send a Cow works in the Eastern Province of Zambia through its partner, the non-governmental organisation Heifer Zambia.


Send a Cow works in Cameroon through its partner, the non-governmental organisation Heifer Cameroon.

Training in water harvesting, and integration of livestock such as goats into a sustainable farming system, is provided in the Far North Province, the poorest region, to help combat the effects of months of drought followed by intense downpours.
In the central and southern regions, families are provided with grasscutters (a cane rat that grows to about 8 kg and is much prized for its meat) for breeding, providing an income and additional protein in the diet and helping to reduce the destruction of forests by bush-meat hunting. This also enables families to set up ‘backyard gardens’ to grow vegetables.


Send a Cow has undertaken research highlighted by its Foundation Series reports, focusing on climate change,[5] organic agriculture [6] and social development.[7]

These are an introduction to Send a Cow and a reference point for ongoing debate on issues such as environmental impacts of farming, social development and natural farming vs use of fertilizers.

The charity has also conducted further research into its individual projects:


• Northern Uganda Stockaid Extension Programme Mid-Term Evaluation Review 2006.[8] Conducted by an independent consultant working with Send a Cow Uganda, for Comic Relief. Focusing on gender equality and women’s status.

• Impact Study of Farmers’ Associations: AWA Masaka and BMW Iganga, Uganda 2006.[9] Conducted by independent consultants for Send a Cow UK and Send a Cow Uganda. The farmers’ associations are based in two different areas of Uganda, and comprise mainly women.

• Post-Conflict Sustainable Agriculture Programme Impact Assessment, 2008.[9] Carried out by independent consultants for Send a Cow UK to examine programmes in Rwanda and northern Uganda funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

• Multiplier Research Report.[10] Carried out by an independent consultant in Uganda to examine the wider impact of Send a Cow’s work.

• Great Lakes Programme Evaluation Report 2001-2004.[11] Conducted by independent consultants working closely with Send a Cow Uganda and Send a Cow Rwanda staff, for Comic Relief’s Children’s Promise fund. The programme targeted child-headed households, orphans living with relatives, and widows struggling to care for children.


• Post-Conflict Sustainable Agriculture Programme Impact Assessment, 2008.[12] See Uganda.

• Natural Resource-based Agriculture in Send a Cow Rwanda – Review, 2008.[13] Carried out by Send a Cow UK.

• Great Lakes Programme Evaluation Report 2001-2004.[11] See Uganda.


• Send a Cow Lesotho Evaluation Report. An external evaluation of all aspects of the programme, conducted in 2008.[14]


• Sustainable Organic Agriculture and Social Development Assessment, Send a Cow/ Heifer Kenya Western Region 2007.[15] Carried out by Send a Cow UK.

• Western Kenya Mid-Term Review Impact Assessment, 2006.[16] Carried out by independent consultants for Send a Cow and Heifer Kenya.


Send a Cow is one of a number of education organisations which include in their objectives the enrichment of school activities with a global dimension, at the same time helping schools to achieve Eco or Sustainable School status.

Send a Cow provides lesson plans, fundraising activities, vegetable growing kits and fun web resources.

The charity also has volunteers who regularly visit schools and groups to give talks about the charity's projects.

Build an African farmyard[edit]

The idea behind ‘Build an African Farmyard’[17] is that a mural is created, over time, to display in schools or churches depicting a typical Send a Cow East African small farm. Send a Cow provides a downloadable pack including illustrations of farm elements such as animals and crops for photocopying, colouring in, and adding textiles to. The pack also contains information about Africa and about Send a Cow’s work, plus fundraising ideas.

African gardens[edit]

An ‘African Garden’[18] teaches pupils about the lives of children in Africa through hands-on activities. Send a Cow provides lesson ideas, starter kits and videos to get children learning about growing plants, the environment, recycling and healthy eating.

Grow it Global[edit]

Grow it Global [19] takes pupils onto UK farms for practical sessions on sustainable development, food issues and climate change.

During their Grow it Global experience, children meet with UK farmers and visiting African farmers on UK farms. The farmers demonstrate gardening techniques that the children can adopt at home or school, helping children to understand more about the lives of children in Uganda and Lesotho.

The project is funded by the Department for International Development [4] and is based on the learning themes of food production and security, sustainable development, climate change and the similarities and differences between the UK and African countries.

Teaching resources[edit]

Send a Cow offers materials [20] to help teachers bring Africa and Send a Cow into the classroom. Materials include posters, DVDs, lesson plans and sticker sheets.

Volunteer network[edit]

Send a Cow relies heavily volunteers to encourage people in their community to support its work and fundraise.


Send a Cow have Ambassadors who give presentations to schools, churches and clubs about how people can help Send a Cow. They also have stands at local events and organise fundraising.

Regional Co-ordinators[edit]

Regional Co-ordinators are senior volunteers across the country who lead teams of Ambassadors, providing them with support and encouragement; help to interview new volunteers; organiseg regional meetings, and liaise with staff at Head Office to ensure volunteers are supported.

Church Reps[edit]

Church Representatives encourage their church to support Send a Cow through prayer and financial support.

Local Links[edit]

Local Links support Send a Cow’s work by regularly fundraising, organising stands at events, giving out literature or encouraging local groups to invite an Ambassador to speak to them.


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  2. ^ "Prince Charles becomes President of Send a Cow : News". Inspire Magazine. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  3. ^ 'Preparing to Climate Proof: The next challenge for Africa's rural poor' Published by Send a Cow 2008 Authors: Richie Alford and Simon Penney
  4. ^ Insert 'Going Organic: Supporting African farmers to feed themselves' Published by Send a Cow 2009 Authors: Richie Alford, Send a Cow UK; Shelia Taylor, Kulika Uganda Contributors: Alice Kinegyere-Mago, Dr. John Wibberley
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  17. ^ "Build an African Farmyard - Poverty Charity". Send a Cow. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  18. ^ "African Gardens - School gardens ideas - Keyhole gardens - Bag gardens - Tip Taps - Sunflowers". Send a Cow. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  19. ^ "The Grow it Global project - Africa Charity - Poverty Charity". Send a Cow. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  20. ^ "Africa topic teaching resources for schools - Africa Charity - Poverty Charity". Send a Cow. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 

External links[edit]