Improving Rural Livelihoods in Malawi Through Village Poultry in Dowa East

Poverty and food insecurity are pervasive challenges in Malawi, a small country with a population of 19 million and a high prevalence of undernutrition, particularly protein malnutrition. Women and children are disproportionately affected by these issues. With primarily rural communities comprising 84 percent of the population, many rely on crop and livestock farming as a means of nutrition. Among the livestock, chickens hold a significant place as they are easy to rear and provide a valuable source of protein for households. However, the looming threat of Newcastle disease poses a significant risk to these rural communities, capable of rapidly devastating entire flocks if left unchecked without proper vaccination measures in place. 

To tackle these pressing challenges faced by rural households, the Village Poultry for Better Livelihoods (VP4BL) program, implemented by the Rural Poultry Centre (RPC) in partnership with the Kyeema Foundation, aims to address the critical issues of poverty, food insecurity, and Newcastle disease control by providing targeted support and interventions to empower rural communities. By focusing on improving poultry-rearing practices, vaccination initiatives, and income generation opportunities, the VP4BL program strives to uplift rural livelihoods and enhance food and nutrition security in Malawi. 

Enhancing Livelihoods and Food Security 

The program trains community vaccinators to administer Newcastle disease vaccine to village chicken flocks. Once trained the vaccinators purchase vaccine vials and administer them to other households in their community. This initiative not only safeguards the health of the chickens but also enables community vaccinators to generate additional income by offering vaccination services to their neighbours. This sustainable model empowers the community vaccinators to play an active role in improving rural livelihoods while ensuring the availability of protein-rich poultry for the community. The response from communities on this program has been extremely positive as farmers recognize the protection offered by the vaccine in maintaining healthy and productive flocks. This program began in Nchisi and has been scaled into Mchinij, Salima and now Dowa East.

Empowering Women through Sustainable Income Generation  

In Dowa, a hilly region where locals rely on crop and livestock farming for their daily livelihoods, the program is creating significant impacts for the vaccinators and the broader community. Magret Mtepatepa, is a married woman with two children who serves as a community-based poultry worker (CBPW) in Dowa. Through her role as a community vaccinator, she earns income to support her household. Since starting her business in July 2022 with just three chickens, Magret has achieved remarkable growth, expanding her flock to over twenty-five birds. She invests in approximately five vials of vaccine each year to maintain the health and productivity of her flock and earn income through vaccination campaigns.

With a thriving flock, Magret and her family now have increased access to protein, utilizing two chickens for household consumption each month. Through the RPC program, Magret has


Magret Mtepatepa with bricks purchased for her new home. Photo Credit: Rural Poultry Centre. 

vaccinated over three thousand chickens, benefiting more than four hundred farmers and their flocks across two vaccination campaigns this year. This has earned her a profit of approximately $350,000 Malawi Kwacha ($516 AUD). She is eager to invest in more vaccines for future campaigns as she continues her work in village poultry farming. Magret plans to utilize these earnings to build a better house for her family, purchasing bricks and plans to purchase land by the end of the year.


Chrissie Mazengera with her grocery store. Photo Credit: Rural Poultry Centre. 

Chrissie Mazengera, a dedicated single parent responsible for three children, stands out as an exceptional participant in the program. She holds the esteemed position of chairing a group consisting of twenty trained Community-Based Poultry Workers (CBPWs) operating within the Mvera Extension Planning Area (EPA). Prior to the commencement of the project, Chrissie had ten chickens. However, thanks to her unwavering commitment and the opportunities provided, she has successfully multiplied her flock to twenty-four, not including those she has sold or those utilized for her family’s consumption.

In addition to expanding her chicken population, Chrissie astutely utilized the profits generated through vaccination campaigns to establish a new grocery store, a vital asset that ensures her family’s nutrition while facilitating timely vaccine purchases. Her notable achievements have garnered the respect of her community, recognizing her as an industrious and influential

woman. As the group’s chairperson, Chrissie serves as an inspiration to fellow members, encouraging them to view this work as an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth. Chrissie takes great pride in the positive transformations this initiative has brought to her life, serving as a testament to the profound impact it can have on individuals and their families. 

How can you get involved?  

While this program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) this support still requires investment by Kyeema in the program. For the overall program Kyeema needs to match 20% of the ANCP funding. So, by donating to Kyeema and the Rural Poultry Centre you can help meet that 20% commitment but also help us to take the program to more and more districts of Malawi, offering more individuals the chance to experience the transformative benefits enjoyed by inspiring figures such as Magret and Chrissie. Together, we can uplift communities, strengthen livelihoods, and contribute to the well-being of the people of Malawi. You can support this initiative directly by donating here.

This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). 

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