Cablegate: Anbar: The Cows Come Home


DE RUEHGB #3681/01 3261354
R 211354Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) This is a PRT Anbar reporting cable.

2. (U) Summary: Respected women in the community pitched a plan to
form a women's cooperative for dairy products to help widows and
divorcees in the Anbar province, in an effort to raise up this
marginalized sector of society that is considered particularly
vulnerable to insurgent activity. Their plan provides rural widows
with cows to allow them to sell milk to a dairy factory in town run
by other women. MNF-W approved their proposal and began helping put
the plan in action. Land O' Lakes visited the Anbar province to
assess the value chain for dairy products and resolved to help stand
up the dairy factory. With the help of the Anbar PRT and Fallujah
ePRT, fifty cows were purchased from local farmers to launch the
project. End Summary.

A Project by Anbari Women for Anbari Women

3. (U) the leaders of a. In Spring of 2008, the civil society
organization Women's Cultural Center of Fallujah pitched a plan to
form a women's cooperative for dairy products to help widows and
divorcees in the Anbar province, in an effort to raise up this
marginalized sector of society that is considered particularly
vulnerable to insurgent activity. The plan was to buy 50 cows,
distributing one cow to each of 50 widows with enough land to
sustain it and then building a factory in the city to produce cheese
and butter and other dairy products. The milk is to be sold by the
widows who live in the rural areas to the factory that will be run
by the women in the city who need income. Together these leaders
worked with the Marines of G9 and, with the support of the Anbar PRT
and the Fallujah ePRT, were able to launch this project.

4. (U) Critical to the long-term success of the project was the
support of local sheikhs who want to encourage the widows toward
self-sufficiency and integration back into society. The widow
pension system is broken and, culturally, supporting the widows is
the sheikhs' responsibility, which they can't do as well as in the
past because they are overextended.


5. (U) The Marines turned to a veterinarian stationed at Camp Ramadi
to develop a plan that incorporated as many contingencies as
possible, including testing for diseases like tuberculosis,
overcoming nutritional challenges for the cows and providing
training for the women on updated agricultural practices and
adequate veterinary care. The veterinarian met with the provincial
DG of Veterinary Medicine to determine the best breed of cow for the
widows. They decided a mixed breed cow - part Friesen from Holland
and part Iraqi - would be ideal because Friesens produce a lot of
milk but the Iraqi genetics were needed to help them endure the
weather. The age of the cow, its likelihood to be or become
pregnant and the age of its calves were also factors to consider.

6. (U) Outside help was needed to stand up the dairy factory and the
Marines invited executives from Land 'O Lakes to visit Fallujah.
They conducted a feasibility study and an assessment of the dairy
sector value chain from the farm to the market during their trip.
They found a high demand for local dairy products in the urban areas
and very little supply. Currently the dairy products available to
consumers are imported. Imported products are more expensive and,
because of transportation challenges, many of the products become
spoiled before they arrive. In fact, milk that is collected in the
area used to be sold to a milk collection facility in Fallujah.
But, it was closed after being damaged in the war and won't reopen
until scheduled CERP reconstruction is complete. Local milk is now
sent to Abu Ghraib for dairy products sold to the Baghdad market.
These findings reinforced the assumptions that a women's dairy
products co-op could be successful in this area.

7. (U) The Land O' Lakes executives agreed to help build the dairy
factory. It is important to note that Land O' Lakes will not be
building the factory with their own income. Rather, they will
obtain a grant to build the factory and provide training to the
women. Once the widows in the rural area are educated about
nutritional feeding and veterinary care and are enabled to overcome
infrastructure challenges such as adequate water and electricity,
and once the women in the city are trained on how to run a factory
(bookkeeping, machine maintenance, marketing and management), then
Land O' Lakes will remove themselves from the grant implementation
program and the Anbari women's co-op will own the dairy factory.

Got Milk?

8. (U) The next step in the plan required further collaboration
between the Marines, the Anbar PRT and the ePRT in Fallujah. With
$67,500 in CERP funds to kick-start the project, an amount
sufficient to buy 50 cows for an average price of $1000 each with
additional funds for transportation and winter feed, representatives
from each of these teams, including a USAID representative who
practices veterinary medicine, visited the livestock exchange in
Saqlawiyah. There they identified 14 cows that met the project
criteria and were determined to be sufficiently healthy to produce

9. (U). With just a few days to arrange for the purchase of the
remaining cows, team members of PRT Anbar and ePRT Fallujah worked
together with their local contacts to find 34 more cows that passed
the veterinary health assessment and could be purchased for
near-market prices. Two additional cows, for a total of 50, were
purchased by the CSO leaders and reimbursed with CERP funds. A QRF
grant will provide supplemental funds for initial veterinary care.

10. (U) MNF-W originally committed CERP funds for this project
because the commanding general supported a concept developed by
women for women that would be accomplished through women. Now the
ePRT in Fallujah is considering building on the project to help more
widows in the area. Together the Marines of G9, the Anbar PRT and
the Fallujah ePRT all helped launch the women's co-op - a relatively
small project that is now on its way to making a big difference in
the lives of many in the province.


11. (SBU) In a tragic turn of events, as the team was purchasing
cows at the livestock exchange, a local widow, unrelated to this
project, strapped a bomb to herself and detonated it at the entrance
of a hospital in Fallujah, killing herself, four others and severely
wounding five more. The attack was a brutal reminder about how
important it is to find opportunities to re-integrate these widows
into society and how valuable a project like the women's dairy co-op
can be to sustaining peace in Anbar. End Comment.


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