What is "Passing on the Gift"?

In a word, it is a very effective way to extend the benefits of livestock distribution in rural communities.

The method is simple. If a farmer receives, say, a goat from SSLLP, he or she acquires an obligation to donate the first breeding offspring (usually female) from that animal to another farmer. That farmer then inherits the same obligation to pass on, and so on. In this way the number of families who benefit from livestock increases significantly over time.

Historically, the system probably originated decades ago under programs put in place by Heifer International. SSLLP endorsed and adopted the practice from the start of its work with livestock distribution to rural smallholders in Malawi.

In practice, the pass-on system requires commitment on the part of both the donor, SSLLP, and the community in which the recipients reside. It requires commitment, strength and good organisation on the part of community based livestock groups so that the system endures. SSLLP makes a point of ensuring its partner communities are well trained to continue the pass-on system long after the departure of full-time project management. Of course there are some failures, but there are many rewarding examples of successful sustained operation of the system even in the absence of regular monitoring by SSLLP.