PREVENT: How hatchery vaccinations are boosting poultry production in Africa

Marie Ducrotoy, Senior Manager Development Projects and Partnerships, Ceva Santé Animale

Tom Osebe, Senior Manager, Commercial Development & Impact, Africa, GALVmed

Improvement in poultry production is one of the most promising options to provide affordable protein and other essential nutrients to Africa’s rapidly growing population, but poultry diseases pose a constant threat to productivity, and limit the industry’s potential. Even though vaccination is proven as an effective way of protecting poultry, high temperatures in Africa make distribution of vaccines (which mostly need to be kept cold) a challenging task in the continent. This hurdle, combined with a lack of information about circulating infectious diseases, exposes small-scale producers to the risk of losing their flocks and livelihoods overnight.

In 2021, Ceva Santé Animale in partnership with GALVmed, and with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), launched the PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) initiative to introduce hatchery vaccinations for day old chicks (DoC) in mid-size hatcheries in Africa. The overarching objective was to enable small-scale poultry producers in Africa to become more productive and efficient and to enhance their prospects for progression and advancement in the industry. And the targets were ambitious; over 50 million hatchery-vaccinated day-old chicks distributed annually through 36 medium-sized hatcheries spread across eight Africa countries. These were expected to benefit 150,000 poultry producers.  

Three years since inception and with over a year left on the project, PREVENT has performed remarkably and is on track to achieving, and in some instances exceeding, its targets. Already, 31 hatcheries in 11 countries have been equipped to provide vaccinations to DoCs benefitting over 100,000 poultry farmers.

More vaccines for improved immunity and reduced mortality

Because chickens are susceptible to a range of infectious diseases that can impact their health and growth, it is important they are vaccinated with several vaccines on the day of hatch. At an average of three doses per vaccinated day-old chick (vDoC), small-scale producers are benefitting from a much larger range of vaccination covering more disease than before, which in turn improve the quantity and quality of the birds. PREVENT has succeeded in vaccinating over 98 million DoCs, exceeding the 56 million originally targeted. This is attributed to the unexpected success of most hatcheries transitioning from zero to one hundred percent vaccination, in contrast to the staged gradual increase in vaccination which had been modelled. Overall, 91% of DoCs produced by the hatcheries are vaccinated.  

Additionally, twenty vaccines have been registered variably in the West African Economic and Monetary Union- UEMOA region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo) as well as Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda offering a diverse offering for use by hatcheries.

Technical support to farmers

Implementing vaccination measures alone is not enough, training on animal health practices, market development opportunities, and advice on biosecurity and good management practices is an important part of the solution for small-scale producers. PREVENT is working with over 200 Field Technicians who have been trained and who serve as the crucial link between the hatcheries and producers. They are providing advice and technical support to the poultry producers and helping to build the customer base of the hatcheries.

A boost for poultry disease data

The SAFER (Sub-Saharan Africa Field Epidemiological Research) portion of the PREVENT project was designed to assess the aetiology of disease outbreaks. Through existing network of field technicians, valuable data on circulation of specific poultry viruses has been collected. This data will be use Ceva and GALVmed to assess if the current vaccines and vaccination program are adequate to protect against  circulating viruses. The data will also be useful to policymakers, hatcheries and their customers for effective disease control. Activities in the SAFER project are providing a significant boost for available epidemiological data for Africa.

Understanding gender dynamics in poultry farming

In order to positively impact women chicken producers through the hatchery intervention, the initiative sought to bring a pragmatic level of understanding of gender dynamics within the poultry sector.  A gender landscaping analysis is helping to shed light on these dynamics which can guide how women can benefit from poultry interventions in the future.

PREVENT has brought about lasting transformational market change as more farmers embrace vaccinated DoCs due to the benefits they offer. Ceva is continually working to create awareness of the advantages of vaccinated DoCs through simplified communication to farmers focusing on better protection improved poultry health, less work for the farmer, and better performance and more money for producers.

A Rising Tide Doesn’t Lift All Boats: Why Africa’s Livestock Intensification Can’t Leave Women Behind

Written by Katharine Tjasink, Senior Manager, Impact, Evaluation & Learning (GALVmed); Lamyaa Al-Riyami, Senior Manager, Evaluation, Programme Planning, (GALVmed); and Zoë Campbell, Scientist, Gender, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Originally published by Farming First

For many of Africa’s 240 million women livestock keepers, success in the industry is a double-edged sword that brings difficult questions of its own, mainly: what happens next?

On top of existing obstacles women face in Africa’s livestock sector – from a lack of access to land, finance, technology, and information about disease control – a successful livestock business can often lock horns with the prevailing gender and social norms across the continent.

For instance, research from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) shows that women face significant challenges when the fortunes of their business rise. These include difficulties balancing an increasing workload with other responsibilities and potentially losing control over their own resources and decision-making by attracting the attention and investment of their husbands or male family members.

As Africa endeavours to intensify its livestock production to meet food security goals, it is imperative to address these gender disparities to avoid unintended consequences and ensure equitable development. Acute care must be taken to avoid leaving women behind and jeopardising gender equality.

This is why the PREVENT project, a Ceva Santé Animale initiative in collaboration with GALVmed, is adopting a “gender lens” to intensify Africa’s livestock production. The Promoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow (PREVENT) project specifically focuses on providing vaccinations for day-old chicks at mid-size hatcheries across Africa.

This approach is crucial as mid-size hatcheries serve many women farmers. Poultry rearing and production, more generally, provides a valuable source of income to women farmers, while also making an important contribution to the reduction of food insecurity and rural poverty across the African continent.

Yet, across Africa, uptake of some veterinary vaccines, key tools to protect advances in productivity,  has been limited. Small-scale poultry production struggle with access to quality vaccines and veterinary services. As a result, rural producers can have their flocks, and the income and stability they represent, wiped out overnight due to otherwise preventable diseases.

By focusing on disease prevention through increasing the accessibility of vaccinated chicks, the PREVENT project is not only boosting productivity by reducing livestock losses but also catering to women farmers, many of whom lack access to critical disease prevention technologies.

Likewise, through the provision of technical training and information dissemination about chicken management, biosecurity, and vaccination, PREVENT is bridging the knowledge and technical divide that holds back Africa’s poultry farmers, including women.

With the support of field technicians, the PREVENT project is contributing to greater animal production and income growth through improved disease control. At the same time, the project is bolstering the knowledge and skills necessary for successful poultry management, benefitting a diverse range of poultry farmers, including those traditionally overlooked women farmers.

In order to benefit future interventions, the PREVENT project is also seeking to improve understanding of the existing social norms impacting women, and their success, in the African livestock sector.

To achieve this, a gender landscaping analysis conducted by the project helped to shed light on these norms by presenting mock case studies of women involved in successful livestock businesses to focus groups across Africa. By collating responses from these groups, the analysis provided insights into the complex social and cultural norms shaping women’s experiences in the industry.

The findings from the gender landscaping analysis are instrumental in informing future development interventions. Quantitative and qualitative impact assessments are also being carried out by the project to contribute to the understanding of gender perspectives in the sector. By understanding the expectations and challenges faced by women in the livestock sector, future projects can act more sensitively to ensure that women’s success does not come into conflict with prevailing social norms. This proactive approach is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable livestock sector in Africa.

Ultimately, intensification of animal production is crucial for providing nutritious food for Africa’s rapidly growing population. Yet, greater success for women livestock farmers can – counterintuitively – bring new challenges of its own.

Therefore, ensuring the overall success of Africa’s food system transformation means also addressing prevailing gender disparities in the livestock sector.

By responding to existing gender gaps in livestock health and improving understanding of complex gender dynamics affecting their livelihoods, the PREVENT project is playing a vital role in ensuring that Africa’s dynamic women farmers are not left behind.

Photo credit: Female poultry farmer, Iringa, Tanzania, 2021. @Colin Dames

Invest in Women to Accelerate Progress

International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, is a day to reflect on the gender disparities that hinder women’s opportunities worldwide, while advocating for policies and strategies that pave the path to gender equality.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024, as set by  UN Women, is Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. With this campaign, UN Women shed light on an alarming reality: An additional $360 billion per year is needed to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment across key global goals, including to end poverty and hunger.

In the livestock context, where GALVmed operates, we must advocate for animal health and livestock strategies that are designed with attention to and addressing gender issues and inequities, to ensure women have equal access to resources and business opportunities as men. By investing in women, we not only advance global goals such as food security and poverty eradication, but also build a more inclusive and sustainable world.

How is GALVmed contributing to women’s empowerment?

Why is it important to invest in women in the livestock sector?

Women make up 43 percent of the global agricultural labour force, and therefore their work and contributions are of tremendous importance. Despite their potential to drive change within the agriculture and livestock sector towards more resilient, prosperous, and sustainable systems, rural women still face numerous challenges that leave them, and their communities, behind. We must allocate resources toward initiatives that amplify women’s contributions and opportunities, catalysing progress for women and men alike. This International Women’s Day, as well as every day of the year, let’s advocate for increased investment in women as a crucial step to help closing the gender gap and forging a future where everyone can thrive.

Banner Photo: Pascal Maitre & Chris de Bode/Panos Pictures

Written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the International Women’s Day 2024 campaign on #InvestInWomen

Celebrating 2 years of achievements with PREVENT

Poultry is an affordable and accessible asset for small-scale producers in Africa, but the effectiveness of vaccination has been limited and rural producers can have their flocks wiped out overnight due to preventable diseases.

PREVENT was launched in April 2021 as an initiative to establish an innovative and pragmatic veterinary health approach in Africa through medium-size hatchery vaccination. PREVENT comprises various workstreams and operations that are connecting the key pieces to achieve this endgame, and in this blog, we explore some of our achievements so far.

  • Hatchery vaccination: The initiative aims to equip 36 mid-size African hatcheries with the necessary equipment and expertise (vaccination techniques, maintenance, hatchery biosecurity practice, quality assurance, and vaccination monitoring) so that the hatcheries will be able to provide customers with large numbers of chicks vaccinated against the major infectious poultry diseases. Farmers and poultry producers buying these vaccinated chicks will have better chances at ensuring flock health, reducing risk of bird losses, securing income, and overall, running more successful businesses. PREVENT has launched activities in 8 countries (Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe) and onboarded 24 hatcheries so far. This has allowed the initiative to administer 109 million doses of vaccines to 37 million day-old chicks (an average of 3 vaccine doses per chick). Diseases against which the chicks are vaccinated include Infectious bursal disease, Newcastle disease, Infectious bronchitis, and Marek’s disease.
  • Training and market development: Vaccination alone is not enough, and the lack of technical support and information about circulating infectious diseases is also a major constraint. To date, PREVENT has trained 100 Field Technicians in Tanzania, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Ethiopia to provide advice and technical support to small-scale poultry keepers. In serving as the link between the hatcheries and the poultry farmers, the field technicians will also foster demand for, and create markets for vaccinated day-old chicks. Since activities started in September 2022, these field technicians have visited 1,800 farms and held over 100 meetings with farmers.
  • Gender inclusion: The PREVENT initiative seeks to bring a pragmatic level of understanding of gender dynamics within the poultry sector with the goal of positively impacting women chicken producers through the hatchery intervention. To serve this purpose, a rapid gender landscaping analysis was conducted in 3 countries representing East, West, and Southern Africa (Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe).
  • Epidemiological studies: This is an integrated component of the initiative that aims to explore and describe the epidemiology of poultry diseases at the level of small-scale poultry producers. To date, activity has started in Tanzania, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire where 52 samples have been collected.

Introducing changes upstream, at the hatchery level, echoes the positive impact all the way down to the farmer level, and contributes to creating a sound and sustainable system that will lead to an improvement in poultry productivity and efficiency in the targeted African countries.

April 2023 marks the second anniversary of this 4-year initiative. Much has been achieved so far, and much is yet to come.

The PREVENT initiative (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow) is a partnership between Ceva Santé Animale (a global veterinary health company) and GALVmed, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This blog was written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the campaign “Celebrating 2 years of PREVENT”

The relation between gender inclusion and food security 

Gender blindness in agriculture and in the livestock sector in particular, continues to limit production in many rural areas, and evidence shows that the more gender inequality there is in a country, the hungrier and more malnourished people are. But what is the relation between gender inclusion and food security? 

Socially constructed roles and cultural practices, rules and beliefs, are some of the reasons for food insecurity and poverty in many developing countries. Although society or community defined roles for members are not in themselves a bad thing, the issue comes when it leads to skewed or unfair allocation of resources and unequal power relations. Women are involved in raising livestock, but they normally do not have equal access to land, labour, feed, credit and capital, and veterinary services among others.  

In any increasingly populated society, there is a growing demand for food security and livestock source foods such milk, eggs and meat. Although women make up two-thirds of rural livestock keepers, they continue to face various constrains that limit them from achieving optimal livestock production and agricultural development. Addressing these constraints and providing access to the same level of resources as men, would increase agricultural productivity by up to 30%.

The empowerment of women in the livestock sector is fundamental to achieve gender inclusion and equality. This can be accomplished by, among others, creating opportunities and improving women’s access to resources including land, technical skills and capital. Women’s ownership, whether of land or livestock, and decision making (e.g. income from livestock) are some of the issues that should also be addressed.  

However, any gender initiative, whether targeted or transformative, that does not simultaneously aim at addressing the gender cultural norms and rules, will result in limited advances. Initiatives aimed at increasing access and/or providing opportunities for women and girls should include educational programs to change society’s entrenched gender beliefs and attitude systems, to avoid backlashes and unintended consequences that would reverse the gains.  

Women’s empowerment is not only beneficial to them but to society, as it has a positive impact on agricultural development and contributes to food security. 

Written by Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, GALVmed’s Senior Manager, Commercial Development & Impact, Africa 

Working towards achieving gender inclusion in the livestock sector 

Women around the world still face many challenges and disadvantages based on their sex/gender identity, and the agriculture and livestock sectors are no exception. 

Women continue to face challenges like unequal access to resources such as land, credit and capital, veterinary services, livestock ownership, or even knowledge and information. Although they are typically involved in caring and managing livestock, they tend to own fewer and smaller animals (small ruminants and poultry) and decision-making power and involvement normally decrease as the business grows. All these constraints continue to limit women’s access to opportunities.  

The International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on March 8. This year, the focus is on gender equity. At GALVmed, we have adapted this topic to the animal health and livestock context. What do we mean by gender equity in the livestock sector? While equality states that all individuals are equal in status, rights and opportunities, equity recognizes that individuals have different needs and power based on their sex or gender identity and/or expression, and that these differences should be identified and addressed in a manner that rectifies inequities

We asked some of our GALVmed colleagues why they think it is important to have gender inclusion in the livestock sector and how to achieve that inclusion. Here are their reflections: 

The importance of gender inclusion in the livestock sector  

It is estimated that Africa’s population will be over 2 billion by 2050. Given demographic predictions, there is an increasingly growing demand for food security and livestock-source foods such as milk, eggs, and meat. Facilitating women’s access to resources, land, capital, and education and training, while promoting their empowerment would increase livestock production, contributing to food security.  Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli, Senior Manager of Commercial Development & Impact in Africa, reflects on the relation between gender inclusion and food security.

 Dr Steve Wilson, Director of R&D highlights how inequality within the management of livestock and associated systems has a resultant impact on sustainability, productivity and health of families and the wider community.  

According to Katharine Tjasink, Senior Manager of Impact, Evaluation & Learning, evidence shows that women tend to reinvest most of their earnings from livestock back into nutrition, healthcare, school, and other household-benefitting activities, which contribute to improving livelihoods and breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty. 

It is evident that women play a decisive role in the overall health and well-being of their families. To Gwynneth Clay, Project Leader of the Brucellosis Vaccine Initiative, this essentially mean they can play a vital role in the successful implementation of One Health strategies. 

Achieving gender inclusion in the livestock sector 

Acknowledging gender inequity and understanding its consequences is the first step, but addressing the constraints and designing effective solutions is not that simple. There are many structural and cultural factors that need to be taken into consideration. “There is clearly a need to find solutions that fit within a cultural context which ensure that woman and men have a more equal contribution to how their livestock and associated household decisions are made,” says Dr Steve Wilson. 

As stated by Katharine Tjasink, achieving gender equity at scale would require serious policy commitment backed by an implementable plan for shifting perceptions, changing behaviour, and addressing structural and other barriers. And Thembinkosi Ramuthivheli also weighs in that any gender initiative, whether targeted or transformative, not simultaneously aiming at cultural norms and rules, will result in limited advances. Initiatives aimed at increasing access and/or providing opportunities for women and girls, should include educational programs to change society’s entrenched gender beliefs and attitude systems. 

Patricia Valdeón Noya, Senior Communications Assistant, highlights the importance of facilitating education and training. “Education and training in animal health and husbandry practices is key for women small-scale producers’ success and empowerment, as it reinforces knowledge, builds confidence, and provides opportunities.” 

Overall, and according to Dr Lamyaa Al-Riyami, Senior Manager of Evaluation, Programme Planning, we must ensure that “support is tailored and appropriate to the needs of small-scale producers, leading to equal economic development and empowerment opportunities.” 

With all this in mind, what is GALVmed’s approach? Neil Gammon, Senior Director of Funder Relations & Development, shed some light on how GALVmed is addressing this matter. “We look at where women tend to be abundantly focused in small-scale livestock production and we make sure that we have very good and effective interventions that generate significant impact in those areas. Specifically, this would mean us implementing, at scale, vaccination programmes in small-scale poultry and small ruminant production. Vaccination rates in both these areas are currently very low and effecting a transformational change here would bring tangible benefits to millions of women small-scale producers.”  

There is a long way to achieving gender equity in the livestock sector. Animal Health and livestock strategies need to be designed minding and addressing gender issues and inequities. By encouraging women’s empowerment, they can fully achieve their potential and value as key players in One Health, livestock productivity and sustainability, and livelihoods. 

This blog has been written by Patricia Valdeón Noya as part of the International Women’s Day 2023 campaign on #EmbraceEquity  

What could gender inclusion in livestock health look like?  

Inclusion, in its very definition, means to be open to everyone and not limited to certain people. In low-and-middle income countries, the focus for inclusion and equity has largely been about designing and implementing programmes that incorporate active participation of women and young people. In most of these countries, women especially face certain barriers and limitations that prevent them from actively participating in and benefiting from certain societal activities. Some of these barriers are due to socio-economic, cultural, and gender restrictions. Efforts to break the cycle of exclusion are being increased in all facets of economic and social development. But what would gender inclusion look like in animal health? 

Inclusion in animal health is especially crucial because women comprise most of the world’s 600 million poor livestock keepers. They do most of the day-to-day farm animal management, including the processing, marketing and selling of animal produce. But some gender norms mean women in this sector are still left behind. Throughout the livestock sector, there needs to be deliberate efforts to formulate strategies to help them contribute to and benefit from livestock health provisions as entrepreneurs, service and product providers, and livestock owners. Here are some areas where inclusion can make a big difference in animal health.  

Access to animal health information 

Some gender norms prevent women from accessing animal health related information e.g., vaccination campaigns. Stereotypes also affect the way women’s capabilities as farmers are viewed, so they are not directly targeted by information campaigns. And in some cases, women’s workload at home do not allow them to participate in information campaigns and trainings.  As a result, many women lack understanding around the availability and importance of animal health products.  To address this, animal health campaigns and information need to be deliberately targeted to women, taking into consideration their family and other commitments.  

Women as entrepreneurs  

Initiate and train women on livestock and animal health entrepreneurship. Women can fit in the livestock sector at different points. One, as livestock entrepreneurs with active roles in management and decision-making. Two, as product and service providers. In fact, there are cases where women vaccinators have been positively received by their communities and have been successful in conducting animal health campaigns and vaccinations.  

There is need to train and equip women as local animal health service providers and as livestock entrepreneurs. This can change their beliefs and behaviours that affect their decision-making regarding the use of animal health products, and the access to training and livestock management, and thus, continue to close the gender gap.  

Mind the (gender) gap 

Women representation in leadership roles decreases as we move to the upper echelons of animal health distribution and manufacturing. Across the industry, women comprise of 36% of leadership teams, with only 16% of senior corporate executives. Reading through literature, there are a number of contributing factors, including employment and pay gaps. Continued investment for example in educational opportunities needed to assume leadership roles can also make a huge difference. 

 A scholarship that has no age limit or that can accommodate family commitments can go along away in providing further training opportunities that will enable women to seek more leadership roles in animal health. Only by identifying and closing these gaps can we reach gender equity, which benefits women in the industry, the industry itself, customers, and the animals the industry strives to help. The glass ceiling needs to come down.  

Embrace equity 

Progress is still needed to create equal opportunities and representation at all levels of the sector. There is an opportunity to ensure women’s capabilities are developed and strengthened to fully participate in the entire value chain. Because when women make decisions and take action to improve their livestock health, their own health and livelihoods, and those of their families and communities significantly improve. 

This blog has been written by Beatrice Ouma as part of International Women’s Day 2023 campaign on #EmbraceEquity

Using vignettes for gender research

Gender research can be used to understand community perceptions of social and gender norms. To better understand these perceptions in the context of poultry intensification, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in collaboration with GALVmed, recently carried out a rapid gender landscaping analysis in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe using a unique method – the vignette. The landscaping analysis was designed to inform the gender context underpinning the PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow (PREVENT) project in these countries.

A fictitious story about a chicken-keeper named Amina is a tool for conversations about social norms

The vignette approach involves reading out a fictitious story involving a main protagonist in a focus group setting and leaving the end of the story blank for the group to comment on ‘what happens next’ as a tool for a conversation about social and gender norms. As the landscaping study was designed to understand community perceptions of women’s involvement in poultry intensification, the vignette in this study was of a chicken keeper named Amina, whose poultry business was flourishing. Amina’s husband approaches her and wants to discuss her business. Responses from the community as to what happened next ranged widely. The following are some examples:

Amina was talented in chicken keeping as she started before she was married and benefited from it. I believe her husband wanted to give her knowledge on the business as well as to congratulate her because what she does is beneficial to the family and the whole society.

– Woman in Tanzania.

There’s no mention on the story where Amina’s business takes a dwindling turn, but it is forever growing, which excites me a lot. So, when the husband wants to talk to Amina about her business, there’s an element of knowledge capacitation the husband wants to offer to her so the business grows to greater heights.

– Man in Zimbabwe.

Maybe the man is jealous she is doing better than him and not getting her attention and other men are eyeing her; she is getting more money. He might think maybe one day she will not be submissive to him. He is afraid.

– Woman in Nigeria.

Through the vignette, we were able to gather information about potential consequences from husbands, family members, and community members when a woman intensifies her poultry production at the expense of her care duties. This includes responsibilities to the family, children, community, or breaking social norms such as speaking to male customers at night. Such consequences include shaming, social ostracization, gossip, jealousy, marital conflict, possibly even domestic violence, or divorce. While support from a husband and family members can lead to growth of the business, as the husband becomes more involved, there is a question about whether women’s ability to control resources and benefits diminishes.

The results of this study raise some interesting questions for the PREVENT project and the gender consequences of poultry intensification. GALVmed will be using these findings to inform a gender intentional approach to understanding, tracking, and communicating the gendered effects of the project.

This blog was written by Katharine Tjasink and co-authored by Zoë Campbell (ILRI)

Gender and Livestock: Exploring the trends in the dynamics of livestock ownership and care in small scale producer households

GALVmed conducted a study to build a better understanding of the household dynamics at play within livestock-owning small-scale producers (SSPs) households in India, Ethiopia and Tanzania. In particular, the study would afford a clearer focus on the issue of gender and livestock. This was considered necessary since previous GALVmed Monitoring and Evaluation studies (focusing on issues such as vaccine adoption, livestock productivity, etc.) had collected gender disaggregated data, but at a fairly limited level of detail. These wider studies have suggested highly variable trends and patterns in terms of livestock ownership and management between adult males and adult females. It was therefore considered necessary to undertake a one-off specialised gender study. This would provide the opportunity to drill considerably deeper into this topic of gender and household dynamics and to provide GALVmed with a much more detailed picture than is afforded through its standard livestock health related studies.

The results of the study revealed clear and illuminating trends. The widely held generalisation that certain species of livestock are the preserve either of men or of women appears to be a misleading over-simplification. Both genders are active participants in the care of all species and children can also play an important role in the upkeep of household livestock. There are, however, clear trends in the activities undertaken by both men and women and, while these vary somewhat across geographies, they can be broadly described as:

  • For poultry: women perform more labour in the ‘daily chore’ type activities (e.g. feeding, cleaning housing etc.) but the input of men increases substantially for the ‘management and money’ type activities (e.g. buying medicines / vaccines, when to sell / slaughter, what to do with poultry income etc.). This increase in involvement by men does not eclipse that of women in these ‘management and money’ type activities. Rather, it suggests that poultry production is a shared household enterprise, albeit with a higher level of input by women.  
  • For small ruminants: noticeable geographical variations exist, although the general trend of more input by men in the ‘management and money’ categories than in the ‘daily chore’ activities continues. In the Ethiopian and Tanzanian study areas, this input by men eclipses that of women, but, even here, approximately 30 – 60% of households have active input by women in ‘management and money’ activities. Again, as a generalisation it seems fair to consider small ruminant production as a shared SSP household enterprise.
  • For large ruminants:  noticeable country variations exist but the perception that women have very little input or say in cattle (aside from milking) is shown to be largely inaccurate. Again, only in the Tanzanian study area is the role of women in ‘management and money’ activities eclipsed by men. As a generalisation, it seems fair to consider large ruminant production as a shared SSP household enterprise, albeit with a higher level of input by men.

The evidence from this study supports the theory that livestock is best considered as a shared household enterprise rather than a specific male or female SSP undertaking. It also highlights the dangers of collecting disaggregated gender data at a shallow or simplified level (as is often necessarily the case when the focus of the study lies elsewhere on animal health and productivity issues). Please see the full study report.

Challenging gender norms in poultry management

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity is what drove Rahma Joseph to start a chicken business. The mother of four from Iringa in Tanzania, was faced with challenges on how to provide for her family and saw an opportunity in poultry business.

“We started with fourteen chickens that were given to us as a group by Care International. We took turns to take care of the chickens and with time, the flock grew to 100,” says Rahma

After a while, some of the group members dropped out of the programme due to various reasons, but Rahma and the few who were left divided the flock that was left and each went their separate ways to take care of their chickens.  She has since grown her flock to around 200 chickens. She makes decisions around their health e.g., vaccinations and also when to sell them.

It is documented that livestock, and especially small stock is an important entry point for promoting women empowerment in rural areas to enable them to break out of the cycle of poverty. Poultry represents an accessible, and low-investment livestock that may help to secure high-quality food and income, especially for rural women-headed households.  It is therefore not uncommon that the first livestock investment that women like Rahma would go for is poultry.

However, it is also documented that as poultry production intensifies in the small-scale segments, and income increases, the level of women’s involvement in poultry management and decision-making declines. The woman’s role is relegated to labour related activities instead. And yet study after study shows that when women have cash, they will spend it on things that improve the quality of life for their family. That means more money for buying food to improve nutrition, schooling for children, visiting a doctor, or even building a toilet. Empowering women to become active decision makers along the value chain is an integral part of getting them out of cyclical poverty.

Nearby in Chanya village, thirty-six-year-old Helena Kindole proudly shows off her new chicken house. She built the house through profits earned from her small poultry business. She is what is known as a mother-unit, meaning she buys day-old chicks from the hatchery and sells them off at a young age, from six months old to other farmers. She has been able to grow her business and can make decisions such as using the profits to build the chicken house.

Women in rural areas are beginning to think more boldly about opportunities available to them, that can improve their livelihoods, status and influence in their homes, communities, and economies. And poultry production is one such avenue.

In April 2021 GALVmed and animal health company Ceva Santé Animale launched PREVENT (PRomoting and Enabling Vaccination Efficiently, Now and Tomorrow), an initiative that will work with medium-size hatcheries in target countries to annually distribute more than 50 million vaccinated day-old-chicks to small-scale poultry producers. PREVENT seeks to be gender intentional,  primarily through Field Technician intervention. PREVENT plans to diminish and reverse the decline of women’s involvement in poultry management activities.

For women like Rahma and Helena, this will be an opportunity to expand their businesses and continue having even greater ability to make decisions on their businesses.

“I would like to build a larger poultry house in order to increase my poultry production and sell more poultry and increase my profit.” concludes Helena.

 Written by Beatrice Ouma, GALVmed Senior Communications Manager