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Maasai women now eat, keep and trade chicken

Maasai women from Kajiado county are set to benefit from donations of kienyeji chicken as a way to boost their sources of income and food security, courtesy of a non-governmental organisation.

About 2,500 Maasai women have each been offered five chicken layers valued at Sh7.5 million in the project also aimed at ensuring their households improve nutrition and empower women.

The groups are from Kajiado Central and Kajiado West sub-counties. Traditionally, most Maasai women in rural areas stay at home without a source of income and depend on their men to provide for the families.

However, recent droughts witnessed across the county have left many families in abject poverty after hundreds of livestock succumbed to hunger.

Latia Resource Centre, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with Monsanto Company, now aims at boosting some of the households adversely affected by changing weather conditions through the poultry project.

The initiative will be done in phases, with 2,500 women benefiting in the first phase. Beneficiaries who are identified at the village level by chiefs are required to attend poultry trainings at Isinya town for three months before they are given layers chicken.

About 200 beneficiaries who were given layers last year to test the suitability of the project laud the initiative, saying it has improved the life of women as they can now earn quick cash to cater for household needs. They say feeding children kienyeji eggs has also impacted on improving their health.

“As a Maasai woman, I have for years stayed at home looking after children and entirely depend on my husband to provide for the family. I also sell milk as a way of getting some cash. Unfortunately, the cows recently succumbed to drought and we have been left with nothing,” said Alice Munke, a beneficiary.

She says the hens she got have been a great help as she is earning quick cash from selling eggs and using the money to buy household items. “As the chicken increase in numbers, I am able to sell some and use the money for vital essential for the family,” she said.

Officials from Latia say cultural misconceptions among men are still a challenge in implementing the project. “We are doing a family-based approach so as to involve men to avert family conflicts.

So, we are engaging men in the trainings so that they allow their wives and sisters to have an income-generating project for the good and benefit of the entire family.

By involving men, they will also trust the source of the chicken and the motive behind it,’’ said Tony Gathungu of Monsanto. According to Jimmy Kiberu, also of Monsanto, by empowering women, the entire society benefits and the health of children improves.

Latia Resource Centre director, Peter Muthee, says the project, which will be done in phases intends to reach out to all Maasai women in the rural areas as a way of empowering the Maasai community.

“They have lost on average 50 per cent of their livestock to drought. We facilitate the women to come for training and we are training them on the best poultry practice, especially on proper feeding of chicken,” he said.

The benefactors are advocating for women chamas, which can concentrate on cash merry-go-rounds and education of members on alternative income-generating projects like poultry.

“We are doing these so that beneficiaries spread the gospel to residents we are yet to reach,’’ said Muthee. The beneficiaries are expected to multiply their chicken up to 50 hens per annum.

They should then give back four chickens to the organisation, which will be given to other beneficiaries so the cycle continues. Kienyeji eggs, which have a ready market, sell at between Sh15 and Sh20 each in most rural markets in the region.

Monsanto will fund feeding of the chicken and vet services to all beneficiaries for one year and beneficiaries are only required to build a chicken coop.

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