Fariel Salahuddin was a successful energy consultant with an international career, but during a trip back to her homeland of Pakistan, she decided to dedicate her time to smaller projects in order to aid poverty-striken, rural areas.
Upon further research, she realized that many of these areas lacked sufficient water and energy, but they were rich in vast numbers of goats. Lots and lots of goats! Realizing this, it was up to Salahuddin to find a way to transform goats into water, and it employs the centuries-old concept of bartering!
Just how do you get water from goats?
“Goats For Water” allows rural communities to exchange “goat holdings” for solar-powered water pumps or solar-homelighting solutions, and it’s based in areas that are off the grid.
According to the Tribune, Salahuddin said, “It was while advising the Pakistani government on circular debt and energy crisis that I identified the need for a community-based, off-grid approach to fulfil the rural populations’ energy needs.”
While turning goats into water might at first seem like a strange, mystical idea, it has helped at least three different villages: Pathan Goth, Faiz Muhammad, and Haji Nabi Buksh. According to Salahuddin, “Most of these villages in Sindh are operating pumps on old (tractor) engines running on diesel. We offer them our services in return for livestock; the number of goats is equivalent to the communities’ one-year expenditure on diesel fuel consumed to pump water from the ground and the market price of the goats.”
How much goats do you need to buy a pump?
As goats are not a traditional form of currency, the exchange rate can be a bit complicated. “The cost varies from village to village as depths of the wells vary. For a 300-400 feet well, the cost is usually Rs1 million to 1.5 million,” explained Salahuddin, “With low water access, the livestock was of lower weight and fetched a lower sale price. After the installation of the pump and with regular water access, farmers are able to increase the quality and value of their livestock holdings.”
To put this into context, one solar pump goes for about 30 goats. According to her team, giving these rural areas better access to water has improved the health and hygiene of the residents in these communities.
The goats are helping the women of Pakistan.
Women in these rural areas especially benefit from the exchange. Salahuddin said, “Mostly, it has been seen that people do not have money to buy diesel to keep their pumps running and hence women have to walk many kilometres to gain access to water…This wastes a lot of their time, which otherwise could be utilised in doing other productive work. This business model helps save them that time.”
In addition, “Girls also tend to skip school to accompany their mothers to walk long distances. But in places that now have regular access to water, girls are reportedly attending school more regularly, and women have reported more leisure and income generating time.”
See, even goats can help in the advancement of human rights! Never underestimate the possibilities of these amazing animals!