Improved Village Poultry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kyeema Foundation was busy in August starting a new project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – ‘Village Poultry for Better Livelihoods: Vaccination Training for Farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’. With generous funds from Partners in International Collaborative Community Aid (PiCCA), KYEEMA is working with the AusCongo Network (ACN) to deliver activities with local staff in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of Kasai-Oriental Province in south-central DRC. Despite a large population estimated at between 1.5 million and 3.5 million, Mbuji-Mayi is remote, with little connection to surrounding provinces or to the capital in Kinshasa.

Orange star shows project location in Mbuji-Mayi.

The local economy is underdeveloped. The majority of households are living in poverty and even educated and skilled people have limited ways of earning an income or finding a job. Low investment in healthcare and lack of reliable energy supply, combined with contaminated water supply also means acute communicable diseases are ever present. Mbuji-Mayi was chosen by ACN for the location of its first Community and Business Centre in DRC because the founding ACN members, including the President, Constantin “Costa” Bengankuna Mukendi, now living in Brisbane, were refugees from the area.

Dr Theodore Mwabi, respected veterinarian and project volunteer consultant, shared his extensive expertise during a well-attended session for training local vaccinators and supervisors in mid-August. This was followed by the first vaccine campaign in 10 villages around Mbuji-Maji. The good news is that there is much interest in vaccination with many people in outlying villages wanting to know how they can get involved. All households from the 10 targeted villages participated in the campaign. The vaccinators managed to vaccinate 2,900 chickens, with hopes of that number increasing in following campaigns throughout the year. Monitoring follow ups are now happening and discussions about the price that villagers are willing to pay their community vaccinators are ongoing.

Dr Mwabi teaching the trainees how to how to use the eye dropper to vaccinate chickens.

Dr Theodore Mwabi (at computer) in training session with the 4 vaccinators (2 women) and 3 supervisors (1 woman) on the project. Village leaders were also present.

We look forward to working with the team on the ground over the next year, led by the dedicated lead supervisor Jean Calvin Tahibubua. Our key aim is to support Newcastle disease control and improved village poultry to be a sustainable activity within these communities well beyond the project timeline. As such it will be critical to work with the community vaccinators to set up a viable small business vaccinating chickens and acting as resident village poultry health experts in their community. While the I-2 ND vaccine is produced in the DRC, it must be transported from Kinshasha the capital, so working with the community to set up an efficient and adequate vaccine supply chain will be one of the greatest challenges.    

Margo Kamuanya, Charon Beya, Corneille Mukeba and Marcel Mukunayi Lumbayi Ntita, the four vaccinators trained in the project, have received bicycles on loan as part of the project. This is an important business tool as it allows them to cover more distance in a morning and vaccinate more chickens in more households.

Vaccinators at work.