A Chicken-and-egg Solution
By Moses Mukitale, Communications Coordinator, West Nile Refugee Response, World Vision Uganda
Harriet’s four young stars can finally dream of eating eggs again. The family of six just received 16 chickens from World Vision to start poultry farming. Ever since they fled South Sudan in December 2017 and settled at Palorinya refugee settlement in northern Uganda, Harriet’s four children have only eaten eggs twice.
And on each of those occasions, she had to sell part of the family’s monthly food rations to buy an egg for each child. For a family that previously owned hundreds of chickens back home, adapting to a life without eggs has not been easy.
“A tray of eggs here costs UGX10,000 (HKD$22) which I can’t raise. Back home we had over 400 chickens, it was possible for the children to eat eggs almost every other day. We would also eat chicken at least once every month. But ever since we got here, we’ve never tasted chicken.” Harriet narrates.
Currently the family relies solely on World Vision-distributed monthly food rations. Things would perhaps have been better had Harriet’s husband 39-year-old Alex not been hit by a stroke, which left his body partly paralysed.
Harriet too is partially disabled. She is yet to heal from a dislocation in her right hip bone which she sustained as the family fled South Sudan. She, just like her husband, is unable to engage in any kind of hard labour that could raise some income.
“My husband is weak. He just stays home. He only walks around our compound and that too makes him tired. So I have to take care of him plus the children,” Harriet adds.
But Harriet’s song is starting to change. Light is evidently getting clear even in the middle of her tunnel. Soon she will be able to have eggs for her children, plus some to sell and take care of her husband.
Her family is among the 66 vulnerable refugee households at Palorinya refugee settlement that have just received hybrid Kuroiler chickens from World Vision to start poultry farming. A total of 1000 birds have been distributed, benefiting over 250 children.
What are Kuroiler chickens?
Kuroiler is a hybrid breed of chicken developed in India, suitable for both meat and egg production. It is an economical breed that can live feeding on kitchen and agricultural waste. The bird is known for its tasty meat in addition to its productivity and ability to thrive in harsh environments.
Kuroilers produce about 150 eggs in a year, while the indigenous breeds can only produce about 40 in the same period. The maturity period for Kuroilers is about 10 weeks, much shorter than the local breeds that take several months. At maturity, Kuroilers weigh about 3.5kg, making them a better broiler compared to the local breeds that normally weigh 2 to 2.5kg.
What awaits Harriet?
In the next 10 weeks, Harriet’s Kuroilers will be fully grown, giving her an expected 50 eggs every month. This means each of her four children will be able to eat eggs each week. Extra eggs produced can be sold for income.
“The children are very excited; they are already giving names to each of the chickens. These 16 chickens will grow into many others. We were taking care of chickens back home so we know how to look after them,” adds Harriet.
“Each vulnerable household we selected has an average of four to five children so they will all benefit from the eggs and chicken. It will boost their nutrition and enable their parents to meet other needs at home,” says Livingstone, who oversees World Vision’s livelihood empowerment interventions at the settlement.
Livingstone adds that all beneficiaries have been trained in poultry rearing and management and also supported with chicken feeders, drinkers and start-up chicken feed. World Vision also ensured that each beneficiary constructs a coop for the chickens before taking them home.
For now, we can only hope the best for Harriet’s four wonderful children.