The Ethiopian government has identified millions of people as being chronically food insecure in the northeast African country. Until recently, Belaynesh and Shimeles and their two children were among that group — but that changed when they started raising chickens.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working with CARE to support thousands of families in poultry production, through a program called Livelihoods for Resilience Activity.
Belaynesh, whose last name was not given, began participating in the Livelihoods for Resilience Activity in her rural village of Gundie. This program has the goal of improving food security and economic status in Ethiopia.
She received poultry vouchers, which she redeemed for young chickens, supplies to build a mesh wire coop and chicken feed.
Now the family gets about 30 eggs a week, which they use to feed their children and add protein to their diet. They sell the remaining eggs at the market, and with that income Belaynesh purchases other items like meat for the family.
The household is one of 4,374 that received poultry vouchers through this program.
Why poultry production?
In Ethiopia, eggs are one of the cheapest forms of animal-source proteins. Nutrition interventions are often targeted at households with pregnant or lactating women and children under age 2.
Poultry production provides an opportunity for food-insecure households to improve their nutrition through the consumption of eggs and to increase their incomes through the sale of eggs and chickens. This builds self-reliance for these households.
CARE explained on its website how the poultry vouchers were a way to target rural households through a market-based, income-generating activity. Often, women manage the poultry and control the income from this activity — and women then reinvest the income in household nutrition and the education of their children.
Belaynesh noticed a difference in the health of her children.
“I’ve noticed them to be strong and have a better academic performance. My neighbors could probably testify that my kids are doing well,” she said.
This is one of the biggest changes for her family since taking part in the voucher program.
“We are very happy with how things are changing for us.”
Improving nutrition for women and children
One of the ways the Church makes the biggest impact in caring for those in need is by prioritizing the health and well-being of women and children.
In August, the Church announced a combined $44 million to promote childhood nutrition in 30 countries. The projects will promote and incorporate principles of self-reliance and engage in evidence-based solutions to combat growing malnutrition rates before age 5.
Part of this funding went to CARE, which is strengthening self-reliance initiatives that help women raise chickens, goats and bees; grow gardens; and improve their children’s diets, like the poultry program in Ethiopia. CARE stands for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere.
“We are immensely grateful,” said CARE USA President and CEO Michelle Nunn in the August report. “Funding from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints allows us to scale up our work in countries like Ethiopia and Ghana and improve the well-being of thousands more children and their families impacted by food insecurity and malnutrition.”