To celebrate International Women’s Day GALVmed is sharing the story of one of the women who has benefited from its Newcastle disease control pilot project in Nepal.
From breaking rocks for a living, Babita is now building up her livelihood increasingly based on her poultry.
Over the next five years GALVmed’s partners aim to vaccinate a chicken against Newcastle disease every 10 seconds. By 2017, globally over 15 million chickens belonging to 2 million families will have been vaccinated against Newcastle disease.
The choice of which livestock deseases to prioritise has a huge impact on gender. In many cultures the backyard poultry sector is seen as the women’s domain. So improvements to survival rate of chickens, which as Babita notes reach maturity much quicker than larger animals, soon impacts on the income and food security of the family.
GALVmed – protecting livestock – saving human lives…
GALVmed meets …Babita Danwar
For the past seven years, Babita has been rearing poultry but has not been able to earn any money from them.
Last year she lost 30 birds when Newcastle disease hit her village, as it had every year.
This year, however, she has three surviving cocks, two hens and seven chicks. The medication made available through GALVmed has proved to be successful and this year, for the first time, she hopes to earn money through her birds.
While her husband is away working as a cook in India, Babita makes incense sticks for a nearby factory. Like many other villagers, she used to break stones to earn money. But after her last pregnancy she had to stop doing hard labour and so the income from the stone crushing stopped.
With three sons aged 17, 14 and 3 to look after, she still has her hands full. She hopes that the birds can bring in the extra money required to educate her sons and expand her incense stick endeavour.
Babita is very happy with the vaccinations and deworming conducted as part of the pilot “All the years before this, the birds died. But today my birds are alive and nothing has happened to them. I will wait for them to grow some more and then sell them. Whatever money I will get, I’ll invest in increasing my flock”, she says with determination.
The helplessness that she felt when her birds used to get sick is something she is happy to forget. She explains “When the birds got ill, no one knew what was wrong with them. I used to go to the medical shop and whatever tablets the shopkeeper gave me, I took them. Despite the medication, the birds died. Even the community animal health workers could not help us”.
This year the training that she received on poultry from GALVmed has made her more confident and informed. She says, “After the training we know on our own what is wrong with the birds and what we need to do.”
Her basic training has also made her realise the value of nutrition for the birds. In the past, she used to let her birds go and scavenge for food. Now she feeds them corn and rice 3 times a day. GALVmed asked her why she keeps poultry, even though she has bigger animals including a pig and 3 goats. Her answer is simple and practical, “When the birds weigh a kilo or so, I can sell them and get money directly. When I started rearing poultry, it was just for the occasional religious festival or ritual. Now I know I can earn some good money from the birds. Also I don’t have to think about the feed too much as the birds are smaller compared to other animals so rearing them is much easier.”
It seems Babita has a new hope and confidence in the birds. “I have faith in the hens. There is a surety that some income will be generated because of them. Earlier I didn’t trust the birds, but now I am confident I want to rear more of them.”
Babita smiles as she tells us that she too wants to expand her poultry flock as much as she possibly can. The birds have given her hope and this year she plans to earn a comfortable bonus through them.
GALVmed is working on its gender strategy based on a very successful workshop held at the end of 2011 in Nairobi. The strategy development is being led within GALVmed by Lois Muraguri and has been informed by two commissioned research reports – one drawing evidence from Africa and the other from South Asia.