By Ida Horner
It is the first intervention of the UK registered charity, Let Them Help Themselves Out of Poverty, aka LTHT.
In August 2015, LTHT set out to establish the type of interventions that can improve the livelihoods of women in South Western Uganda. As part of this exercise, our team visited sixty-one homes in three villages in Ruhanga parish and recorded basic information about their household composition, education level, health, diet, income and expenditure among others.
A key finding from these visits was that some of the women earned as little as 40 pence (2,500 UGX) a week. An amount that is less than what the so-called “Ultra Poor” are said to live on. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that a woman in this position has no assets to generate her own income.
Through experience, we have learnt that beneficiaries of any intervention should be involved in the decision making process as well as in the monitoring and evaluation of any project to ensure its success, as higher levels of commitment, ownership and accountability are achieved this way. Therefore, LTHT sat down with a group of 29 local women to explore different opportunities to help them develop their skills and at the same time generate additional income for their families. After several discussions, we all agreed that poultry keeping was the answer as there is an extremely high demand for eggs and chicken meat in the area.
As part of the initiative, women have been learning the basics of poultry farm management, book and record keeping, marketing and profitability, and savings and investments. LTHT has also provided the women with basics to enable them build chicken coops as well as farm equipment and enough feed for the initial months while the hens are not yet laying.
On International Women’s Day (8th March 2016), we formally launched 29 micro poultry farms. All participants received 10 three month-old Kuroiler hens that they will have to look after for the next two years.
A Kuroiler hen is a hybrid breed from India that is already very popular in other parts of Uganda. The bird’s ability to outperform indigenous varieties, providing more meat and eggs under rural scavenging conditions has made it a highly attractive option for many farmers. Kuroilers produce five times the number of eggs per year (150-200 vs. 40) and attain almost twice the body weight (3.5kg vs. 2 kg) in less than half the time of indigenous chickens. At 5 months of age, a Kuroiler hen should start laying eggs continuously for 2 years and can be sold after that for its meat for about £4.
Although most of the work seems to be done, our team will continue working with the group for the next 4 months to ensure women have the skills required to run a successful and healthy farm, help them identify the best routes to market and start a group savings scheme which will allow this intervention to be sustainable in the long term.
Night Barayemura is one of the beneficiaries of this initiative. She’s 40 years old and has 7 beautiful children. As many others in the community, she’s a subsistence farmer and currently earns an average of £4 a month by selling some of her green bananas (matooke), beans and ground nuts (peanuts) around the village. Through this project, she’s hoping to provide a better diet for her family as they currently consume green vegetables twice a week and meat only on Christmas Day.