Six weeks ago, a rust-coloured red truck backed into the entrance of Bakassi Camp for IDPs, mere metres from the half-finished house where Falmata Mohammed and her family had been living for more than three years. For weeks, she knew she was on a list to receive chickens and had even met with officials from an agency, something she remembered had to do with agriculture and, she recalls now, the United Nations. With little land to farm in the sprawling camp in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital in northeastern Nigeria, Falmata could not resume her livelihood as a cowpea farmer and trader.
However, with support from FAO’s micro-gardening initiative, she still maintained a small vegetable patch at the side of her home. Never did she imagine that in addition to her micro-garden, where she planted crops like roselle and amaranth, she would now be raising poultry. I love farming but I was most excited to start rearing chickens than anything else, she said. Taking care of livestock, Falmata shared, is less labour intensive, leaving her more time to spend on other activities like caring for her six children, one of whom is only eight months old.
A few days before, Falmata received a spacious chicken coop, animal feed, medicine and saw dust to make the chickens cool and comfortable. She and nine other women and men in Bakassi, the first batch of a total 200 people planned for the camp, also received guidance on good poultry production practices, including on feeding and keeping the animals healthy. The group received business development training under FAO’s village savings and loan approach, and started selling eggs as their group business. My children have more food to eat and we can now afford things like detergents to wash our clothes and clean the house, said Falmata. When I’ll have saved more money, I will buy more chickens or a goat, she added.
Group leader, Usman Jiddah, believes the initiative goes far beyond the income from poultry. Chicken rearing has brought us together. Half of us are from northern Borno and the other from southern Borno. Normally we would not interact, I feel us selling together and saving together as a team has contributed to greater unity within the camp, he said. Jiddah also plans to scale up, this time purchasing a ram.
FAO’s poultry intervention builds on other support services and agri-inputs the agency provides to households affected by the crisis in the North East. Recipients of the chickens, feed and housing have also received seed and hand tools for backyard vegetable gardens. A fuel-efficient stove, which reduces the need for firewood by about 65 percent, was distributed to members of the group and 390 more IDPs in Bakassi. In the North East, women are particularly vulnerable to sexual and physical violence outside of IDP camps, and especially in the bushes as they search for woodfuel. By providing inputs like seed, fuel-efficient cooking stoves, poultry and housing, people have less of a need to venture beyond camp grounds, and are therefore less exposed to risks such as sexual violence and exploitation, said Nourou Macki Tall, FAO Deputy Representative in Nigeria.
A recent post-distribution assessment of FAO’s fuel-efficient stove intervention shows that about 70 percent of people surveyed, more than half of whom are women, felt that their level of protection has increased since reducing the time they spent foraging for woodfuel. FAO’s poultry restocking in the North East is funded by the European Union, and the Governments of France, Germany and Norway. In 2019, FAO will support about 3 000 women and men with poultry, housing, feed and medication. FAO’s livestock programme, which includes mass vaccinations and the restocking of goat, bull and other livestock, will reach about 22 000 households in 2019.
Source: Food and Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations