No doubt, rural chicken is playing pivotal in the socio-economic, socio-cultural and food security chapters of the rural and remote regions of the world. The chicken model for rural micro-development and poverty reduction is always appreciated and accepted globally. Bill Gates has rightly chosen this special small creature to help the rural poor of Africa. I hereby share my experience so for in this field and comment in the ensuing lines.
For several years, I worked with the projects like that (Bill Gates launches chicken plan to help Africa poor) in rural areas of Pakistan, especially Balochistan. I’m the witness of many projects; given livestock heads to the rural poor to achieve the objectives as following.
- Provision of rich/important sources of food (protein, minerals and vitamins) for the family use, like milk, egg and meat etc. This part is especially important for the children and women
- To get rid from severe poverty as small set of livestock has the capability to help in getting out from the extreme poverty. The families with such set of livestock can manage schooling for their children, also give the purchasing power for daily necessary items.
- To support women health as livestock is main owned/managed by women especially chicken, goat, buffalo and cow etc. Women gets power to purchase her daily use items for her-selves and her kids.
But there are some main challenges like;
A. Neglecting the Importance of the Native Chicken/Livestock breeds
Introduction of animal genetic resources from other region (like mountainous breed in low land, etc), even if they were from the same country, resulted in many diverse outcomes. Also, new animals can bring new diseases. During my experience with such project, we could not find the animals given next year. This challenge/mistake leads to many other sad outcomes like dilution/adulteration of local breeds, weakening of the resilience of the communities to the climate change and food security challenge. So I recommend to provide local breed of chicken only.
B. Selection of the deserving people
Some people just like to have free lunch and they will dine such precious project in the first quarter of its life. I have seen such situation in a sheep project.
C. Monitoring of the project
Such projects need proper and contentious monitoring for at least 3 years with proper data recording and keeping bird eye on pros and cons of the development process.
D. Provision of the appropriate set
Provision of a set of chickens which makes sense. The set of five chicken is too small to support a family. The set of animals perform very important role. The chicken set of 10:1 (F:M) will have more chances of success than smaller size of 5 chicken only.
E. Provision of vet. cover
Provision of continuous veterinary cover can assure the success of the project, especially vaccination against the epidemic diseases. Some diseases outbreaks are very specific to certain regions. (I would never recommend provision of feed for the livestock as a charity.
F. Publication of the outcomes
The data achieved must process and the outcomes of the project must publish for the public use. This huge project will lay guidelines for such projects in the future.
Further reading about the importance of the native chicken;
Looking forward for a successful project to ease the life of rural Africa.