About Us

Herding4Hope

Herding 4 Health Model
through Herding 4 Hope

The Herding 4 Health (H4H) Model was designed to empower livestock-owning communities and stakeholders to overcome the suite of challenges they face in a landscape in a practical, traditionally acceptable way that offers impact and sustainability in the face of climate change, wildlife-livestock conflict, skills and job shortages, poverty, and transboundary animal diseases.

 We recognised, through research and experience, that at the core of most of the challenges and barriers faced by livestock-owning communities in Africa are livestock not adequately attended to by communities due to a lack of basic skills and means for effective and strategic herding and kraaling.

 The H4H Model empowers communities by equipping herders in communities with the necessary skills and processes to ensure herding and kraaling can enable compliance with good management practices that are wildlife-friendly, climate-smart, and sustainable.

 Compliance records kept by skilled herders and the governance structures developed to enable collective action by farmers in a landscape can practically assist to overcome trade barriers and lack of investment needed to ensure communities are more resilient and livelihood strategies are sustainable.

4-h Action Cycle

The H4H Model revolves around the 4-H action cycle that pulls communities out of a poverty trap towards hope and a better future:
Hope, Herd, Heal, and Harvest.

Hope

Inspire belief and hope that landscapes can be restored and thrive with, and not without, livestock; that livestock and their owners are part of the solution and not just the problem. Communities with the hope and belief that they themselves, their livestock, and their land is able to prosper if they are willing and able to manage their livestock well will move out of conviction and not incentive alone.

Herd

Empower, equip, and mobilize strategic and collective herding and kraaling by employed Ecorangers /skilled herders to adapt to a changing climate, mitigate risk and unlock opportunities. Through skilled herders within communities, livestock are herded and kraaled strategically to heal the land, the livestock herds, and relationships towards greater unity amongst stakeholders.

Harvest

Draw on a range of innovative trade and investment opportunities linked to best practice compliance by farmers on restored rangelands to unlock new and improved income and enterprise opportunities, such as beef value chain development and access to carbon markets, benefiting restoration economies sustainably over generations. Farmers working in unity allows for improved compliance with best practices and the healthy and productive herds on restored rangelands offer a harvest in the form of diversified livelihood, enterprise, and investment opportunities that further sustains best practice and instils more hope for more effective action.

Heal

Help communities deploy planned grazing and livestock health and production strategies that result in healthier and more productive soils, rangelands, livestock, crop fields, biodiversity and communities.

4-h Action Cycle

The H4H Model revolves around the 4-H action cycle that pulls communities out of a poverty trap towards hope and a better future:
Hope, Herd, Heal, and Harvest.

Hope

Inspire belief and hope that landscapes can be restored and thrive with, and not without, livestock; that livestock and their owners are part of the solution and not just the problem. Communities with the hope and belief that they themselves, their livestock, and their land is able to prosper if they are willing and able to manage their livestock well will move out of conviction and not incentive alone.

Herd

Empower, equip, and mobilize strategic and collective herding and kraaling by employed Ecorangers /skilled herders to adapt to a changing climate, mitigate risk and unlock opportunities. Through skilled herders within communities, livestock are herded and kraaled strategically to heal the land, the livestock herds, and relationships towards greater unity amongst stakeholders.

Heal

Help communities deploy planned grazing and livestock health and production strategies that result in healthier and more productive soils, rangelands, livestock, crop fields, biodiversity and communities.

Harvest

Draw on a range of innovative trade and investment opportunities linked to best practice compliance by farmers on restored rangelands to unlock new and improved income and enterprise opportunities, such as beef value chain development and access to carbon markets, benefiting restoration economies sustainably over generations. Farmers working in unity allows for improved compliance with best practices and the healthy and productive herds on restored rangelands offer a harvest in the form of diversified livelihood, enterprise, and investment opportunities that further sustains best practice and instils more hope for more effective action.

4-returns

Such a positive impact in rangelands, animals, livelihoods, and community governance results in generational returns:

Inspiration Returns

Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.

Social Returns

Bringing back jobs, education and social connections

Ecological Returns

Restoring biodiversity and soils for healthy and resilient landscapes

Financial Returns

Realising long-term sustainable income for communities

Our Story

The Herding 4 Health Model

The Herding 4 Health Model is the brainchild of Dr. Jacques van Rooyen. It is a product of experience and expertise gained over most of his career, and in many ways, that of his upbringing. Jacques was born and raised on various cattle farms ranging from the Kalahari sands of the Molopo where he was born, to the grasslands of the western Freestate, but mostly the north-eastern escarpment of what is now Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

Jacques’ father, Dr Pierre van Rooyen, is a well-known figure in livestock breeding throughout southern Africa and finished his professional career as Head of SA Studbook – the leading animal registration and improvement agency for most registered livestock breeds in southern Africa.

However, prior to his corporate service in the livestock sector, Pierre served farming communities initially as a livestock beef production extensionist but mostly a leader of various livestock farming operations, including his own.  Pierre is a brilliant rangeland and pasture manager in his own right and in his shadow Jacques had the privilege of growing up learning how best to manage beef cattle, in some instance the largest breeding operations in the region, across multiple ecosystems each with its own, unique challenges.

Besides livestock and rangelands, Jacques fell in love with nature at a very young age and started self-studying wildlife, birdlife, and plants. His hope was to study animal science but to then specialize in wildlife management with the aim of somehow working at the interface between livestock and wildlife systems. However, deeper even than his passion for livestock, rangelands and wildlife, was his love for the people of the land.

Jacques was in his early teenage years when South Africa broke out of the ugly grip of apartheid, and for the first time really was confronted with the systemic divide that existed between peoples. Years later during much time spent in Shangaan villages and homes during mission work that served Christian churches in various rural areas Jacques’ heart changed for good and serving rural communities left behind or excluded from opportunities to prosper became his life mission.

However, for that to materialize he had to prepare and learn much. Jacques obtained his BSc(Agric)animal and wildlife science, BSc(Hons)wildlife management, MSc ruminant nutrition, and PhD veterinary science degrees over a period of 18 years. During his postgraduate years Jacques gained experience in professional hunting, game reserve management, professional wildlife management, rangeland ecology and monitoring, and finally as lecturer and academic at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria.

Developing the H4H Model formally started in 2008 when Jacques took on the first project in the Faculty within the subject field of One Health with the aim at studying and finding solutions for challenges experienced by communities and conservation at the wildlife-livestock interface in the region.

Jacques later became the first lecturer at the University of Pretoria in One Health and developed under and postgraduate courses for students across the African continent, and even further afield. He spent most of his research in communities next to the Kruger National Park and also in the then Eastern Caprivi (Zambezi Region) of Namibia. It was then when he was confronted with the significant complexity which the wildlife-livestock interface presented communities and multiple stakeholders and especially how transboundary diseases and the international control thereof affected such systems.

Foot-and-mouth disease control and especially solutions presented by new international trade standards, such as non-geographic based trade standards (commodity-based trade) in these areas. Ultimately, complexity had to be addressed with simplicity if it was to work which led him to his childhood practice of herding.

Spending time in these systems researching and listening to herders, farmers and stakeholders highlighted the significant potential strategic herding and kraaling could have if there was a systemic deployment of the right skills, local governance, and support systems. It had the potential to transform communities, unite stakeholders, remove the animosity between livestock and wildlife systems, and unlock opportunities previously unattainable. It had the potential to fulfil his life mission in seeing communities, animals and landscapes thrive, as opposed to merely survive.

And the Herding 4 Health Model was born in 2014. To properly apply the model, developed within the theoretical setting of the academic environment, but strong input from practical and observed experience, the model had to be applied in various contexts. The University setting was not ideal and despite attempts at piloting its innovations in communities it was not until the end of 2017 when two major conservation NGOs, Conservation International and the Peace Parks Foundation, realized the need for it in transfrontier conservation systems in priority landscapes for biodiversity conservation and improved connectivity, that implementation became possible.

For five years, from March 2018 to February 2023 Jacques developed and led the Herding 4 Health Program as a vehicle to implement the H4H Model for these conservation entities. Through, the five years the Model was piloted and implemented in over 15 sites in seven countries with plans to scale and expand even further. It proven its value and potential and started drawing the necessary investment to transform communities and the rangeland systems they existed in.

With the Herding 4 Health Program of these entities well established and resourced to continue its impact, it was time for Jacques to move on fulfil its dream of establishing an entity that allowed the H4H Model to be accessible, effectively resourced and efficiently supported for any entity anywhere wishing to implement it in ways that drew investment as opposed to aid. It was clear that through aid communities will continue to survive but for communities to truly thrive they had to become investable. And Herding 4 Hope (Pty). Ltd. was born.

Herding 4 Hope (Pty.) Ltd.

For the H4H Model to be implemented it needed a specialist and unique support entity able to guide, adapt, and develop innovations and strategies in dynamic ways beyond the scope of systems typically within large corporate NGOs.

Implementers of the H4H Model needed to find its specialist, holistic and all-inclusive support partner to be a blessing, and not a burden, as it changes its role along the developmental trajectory of any H4H implementation site. For this to happen the right complement of skills, organizational structure, and most importantly, heart, principles and values of the individual team members had to be found.

On 1 March 2023 Herding 4 Hope (Pty.) Ltd. was launched to do exactly that with exactly the right people. Herding 4 Hope (Pty.) Ltd. is now positioned to implement and properly execute the Herding 4 Health Model in any landscape that requires this type of holistic mitigation and quickly became a major implementor and support for the Herding 4 Health model across Southern Africa (South-Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia).The structure and governance “container” to capacitate this model has now been created with a continual growth and development focus.

The skillset of our team ranging from ecologists, farmers, animal health expertise, GIS specialists to engineers, project managers and administrators – all with vast and diverse experience in community development, training and major project and enterprise design and execution across Africa.

The team is positioned to execute well over diverse landscapes and contexts and are able to partner in ways that suits H4H implementers and communities in ways that compliment their own capacity, expertise and organizational mission. It is a team with a conviction to serve the people of the land and the land of the people for as long as it takes, no matter what it takes.