Soil quality makes agricultural activity difficult and unreliable. Often, crop yields are so small that supplies run out after just six months. Few families can afford cattle or goats. To supplement food and income shortages, many families raise chickens, but the local breed of chicken is small and weak, and produces only 40 eggs per year—not nearly enough to feed a family of five. School headmaster Alphan Saigege has watched his students come to school hungry. Many are orphans and eat only one meal a day.
Small Steps to Great Solutions
A healthy flock of productive chickens can lift a family out of poverty for the long term.
Since 2006, VWB/VSF veterinarian Dr. Roger Thomson, from Ontario, has been helping to improve nutrition and income potential for villagers by cross-breeding local chickens with Rhode Island red cocks. The genetically superior offspring are much larger than the traditional local variety, and produce more than four times the number of eggs per year. That means increased protein for families and healthier chickens that are less susceptible to disease.
Passing on Knowledge
Using a train-the-trainer model, community-selected “teacher” farmers like James Magira train fellow villagers on techniques for improving poultry production. James is the village chairman. Before VWB/VSF arrived, James had trouble keeping his flock of chickens from dying from disease. Now, he’s doubled his egg production, his chickens are healthy and he can provide his family with life-giving protein.
Each year, VWB/VSF’s Canadian vet student volunteers work with Dr. Roger Thomson to help train locals to deliver poultry vaccinations, provide training and support the development of the poultry co-op. Each community in Tanzania takes local ownership for the project, allowing villagers to tailor assistance to their needs. VWB/VSF also works to educate and support local high school students, who will be the future income earners in each village. We’re also developing courses on animal husbandry that allow students to gain field experience, earn lunch and school fee payments, and serve as a model farm in the community.
In Tanzania, the more each village learns, the better chance it has at creating an independent, thriving community. VWB/VSF is helping it happen.