Strengthening food & nutrition security through family poultry & crop integration in Tanzania & Zambia

Background

Despite increases in agricultural production over the past two decades, malnutrition rates in children have not diminished significantly in many developing countries. Undernutrition affects health, physical and cognitive development capacity in children as well as productivity in adulthood. Recent reviews indicate that agricultural research interventions have had little impact on childhood nutrition, with poor research project design being a contributing factor to this disappointing outcome.

Food and nutrition security are particularly crucial in Tanzania and Zambia where the national prevalence of stunting (chronic restriction of growth) in children under five years of age has been estimated to be 42% and 45%, respectively. Sustainably addressing the nutrition component of food security in Tanzania and Zambia is critical and was raised as a priority by senior government personnel in both countries. Also, as research indicates that resources under the control of women are more likely to be used to support the education and nutrition of children, we are testing if improving women’s production of family poultry and crops can have a beneficial impact on children’s overall nutritional status and health.

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We aim to enhance traditional village chicken-crop systems as a sustainable solution to the ongoing nutritional challenges in Africa. Rural communities that rely on rain fed crops often go through severe hunger periods just prior to the major harvesting season when their stored grains have been exhausted. These significant peaks and troughs in household food availability are reduced when there is diversity in family farming activities. By improving village poultry health and welfare, families have greater access to poultry meat and eggs which are a source of high quality protein, bioavailable micronutrients and income. Poultry manure can also contribute to increased soil fertility for the production of indigenous vegetables at the household level, further diversifying the range of foods eaten.

The short name of our project is “Nkuku4U.” We chose this name as “nkuku” means chicken in Nyanja, one of the local languages in our field site in Zambia. Our interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral project is a voyage of discovery as we build partnerships across disciplines, between sectors and with communities. You’d be welcome to accompany our journey by sharing ideas and receiving our 6-montly newsletter.

Project duration: 1 February 2014 to 31 December 2018.
Funding agency: Australian International Food Security Centre