It’s cloudy and cold during the month of November. Dozens of farmers are standing in the village’s open market, their feet planted in mud, waiting for the distribution to begin. Each one tightly grips a sheet of white paper in their hands, ready to present it when their number is called. Their eyes are on the long white truck; their minds thinking of the safest way to take animals home.
On this day, 100 sheep and 50 goats will find their new owners, as part of the project financed by Austrian Development Agency and implemented by World Vision, through its Programme to support those affected by the floods that devastated Bosnia and Herzegovina in May and August of 2014. The floods, the worst in over a century, affected more than 1.5 million people and brought destruction to tens of thousands of households, killing animals, contaminating agricultural lands and calling into question Bosnia and Herzegovina’s food security, as well as survival of thousands of families who earn their income from agriculture.
The “Restoring Food and Income Security of Flood Victims” project was designed to bring help to 2.434 agricultural producers in the 10 flood-affected municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, through the donation of: agricultural seeds for the autumn sowing season, berry seedlings, bee hives and small cattle. The project placed a special focus on socially disadvantaged families, families with children, people with disabilities, the elderly, single parent and/or female or child-headed families in local communities where World Vision Bosnia and Herzegovina has been serving for 20 years.
Mehdin, 60, a father of four and grandfather of 10, received three sheep. “God willing, these three will [become] six,” he says hopeful, holding sheep by the horns and pulling them to his vehicle. Although he earns his income as farmer, these are Mehdin’s first sheep.
Mevludin also received three sheep. His five-member family survives on around $150 (USD) per month. In May, his fields were flooded. “All of my potatoes were lost, as well as half of the wheat,” remembers Mevludin adding that this donation of livestock will help him rebuild his life and provide for his family.
“[The] animals will provide these families some income,” explains Admir Cigic, from World Vision Bosnia and Herzegovina. “In the beginning, this income will be small, but later it can grow,” he says. “When sheep give birth, farmers can create a herd. They can also sell lambs and produce wool, as well as cheese, cream, etc…” he adds.
“These are authentic Bosnian sheep and families can create herds and make a living from them,” agrees veterinarian Galib Alic, also present at the distribution to make sure all animals are healthy and in good shape. He points to the marks on the animal’s ears that prove that they were inspected and vaccinated.
As distribution comes to an end, the farmers head back to their homes with their valuable cargo that they hope will improve their lives as well as the lives of their children.
First published by World Vision.