Heifer International Methodology

Heifer International applies a methodology of community-led development called Values Based Holistic Community Development (VBHCD), “which focuses on total community transformation and is grounded in societal values or principles. Our approach encourages people to use their collective strengths and values to overcome what is often felt to be a hopeless situation of poverty.”

heifer-page7The Heifer Asia/South Pacific Program has pioneered a “Shared Leadership Model” which is illustrated in this brochure.

As described at this link: “The essential values we apply to our projects are called the Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development. Cornerstones stimulate group wisdom and personal insights, and keep people’s hearts, minds and actions balanced, focused and productive. Using the Cornerstones as a framework, project participants develop the attitudes, behaviors and skills necessary to improve their own lives and transform their communities.”

The brochure describes the steps in the process:

  1. Self-Help Group Formation: Prior to Heifer’s involvement in a community, the community members must take the initiative to organize themselves into groups of about 20 people – one representative per family. Each group establishes a Group Savings and Credit Fund, and operates it for approximately six months before Heifer begins working with the group.
  2. Enlightenment: Reinforcing the Cornerstones. A trainer meets with the community members to overcome hopelessness and lack of cohesion by internalizing the Cornerstones.
  3. Empowerment: Delivery of Physical Inputs and Technical Training. The enlightened group is now in a position to work through a series of questions and develop a shared vision – which becomes the basis for the planning and implementation of the project.
  4. Sustainable Development: Planning and Beyond. At this stage, the focus of the group expands beyond livestock development to holistic development as the community begins to address larger issues and tap other local resources.