It stands to reason that the more options available to people, the more opportunities exist for them to diversify or improve their livelihoods and avoid disaster. For example, a pest may wipe out one crop leaving the family with no food or income, but if you are growing several different crops the impact may be less severe.
In Ele Borr, livestock rearing has been the only option, but with the help of CCSMKE, women in the community are now rearing chickens for the first time. This provides different kinds of food for the family and enables women to earn money by selling eggs and chickens at the roadside to truck-drivers.
Now that the community has settled in one place, women are also learning how to make and store fodder for their animals and cultivate vegetables on farm plots.
Kabale Jillo’s story:
“Initially we had a lot of livestock and that’s how we survived, but over the years with the frequent droughts, we have lost the animals. I had to turn to breaking up stones for construction. It’s been hard to get by.
“Now I’m getting a lot of benefits from rearing poultry. I let the hens sit on the eggs and then they hatch into chicks. Then I raise them and I sell the cocks to travellers. Sometimes I take them all the way to the nearest market [80km]. I also get eggs, which I sell but, more importantly, we eat them ourselves.
“Before, a cock used to go for 300 Kenya shillings, but recently the price has gone up. One cock can go for as much as 600 to 700 shillings. When I sell four, five, six of them I can buy clothes my family. I can also buy school books and pens. I’m able to take care of household needs and I can do a lot of other things, including buying medicine.
“Things have changed ever since I started this poultry business. For one, my children’s health has improved because they are eating eggs. I’m also able to slaughter a hen once in a while. And in terms of bringing in income things are more equal in the household.
“When drought comes, productivity goes down, not only for other livestock but also for the poultry. Egg production goes down, and meat production goes down. However, given the poultry that I have, I should be able to withstand the drought – I don’t know for how long, but I might at least be in a better position than others who don’t have poultry.”