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Agency, resilience and coping: exploring the psychosocial effects of goat ownership on orphaned and vulnerable children in Western Kenya

By Robyn Elizabeth Winsor and Morten Skovdal


Despite an increase in goat donation programmes geared at orphaned and vulnerable children in sub-Saharan Africa, the social psychological effects of goat ownership on the lives of these children have yet to be investigated. To shed light on the ways in which goat ownership affects children's psychosocial well-being, this paper presents a case study of a goat donation programme in Western Kenya, paying particular attention to children's interaction with the goats. Informed by social psychological understandings of resilience and coping, we involved fifteen children (aged 12–17) in this qualitative study, using photographs and written reflections to describe the impact of goat ownership on their lives. The children also created daily routine diagrams and community maps and participated in two group discussions to explore their experiences further. The guardians of two of the participating children were also interviewed. A thematic content analysis of all our data revealed that goat ownership, within this social environment, enabled children to (i) generate income as a result of their participation in goat management, (ii) negotiate social support and (iii) create positive images of self and life – deriving emotional benefits. We conclude that goat ownership provides orphaned and vulnerable children with opportunities for positive social participation and community engagement that can facilitate children's resilience

Topics: BF Psychology, DT Africa
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1002/casp.1086
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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