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Robert Okumu-Obonya, ECHO Technical Advisor for the TOGETHER Program, an initiative of ECHO, Church World Service, and MAP International, with funding support from St. Mary’s United Methodist Church Foundation, reports on progress being made through a poultry vaccination program being implemented in the Kacheri sub-county of northern Uganda.  The initiative, which facilitates the vaccination of rural chickens against Newcastle disease, is one of several TOGETHER Program efforts being implemented to improve the short- and long-term livelihoods of community members in Kerheri and neighboring sub-counties. 

Viral Newcastle disease is evidenced by gasping, contorted birds with greenish/watery droppings which results in an almost 100 percent mortality rate among poultry where the disease is not under control.  Such outbreaks are a major setback for the typical rural household for which chickens contribute a huge economic and nutritional resource.

Okumu-Obonya reports that the vaccination program is being implemented by women from seven communities who have volunteered to be trained to administer vaccinations to household flocks.  For protection from Newcastle disease, chickens are vaccinated three times per year.  Each application costs 100 Uganda shillings ($0.03 US).

Maria Lochoro - Grainary StoreMaria Lorchoro, an expecting mother with six children and whose husband is one of the few male vaccinators, has seen firsthand how Newcastle disease vaccinations can transformed a household.  She explains, “I am now able to maintain my chickens throughout the year. From them, I have sold many eggs as now many chickens are able to lay eggs. Selling them to the weekly village market in Kokoria has enabled me to purchase salt for my seven goats, cassava and sweet potatoes that my children have enjoyed and has been very helpful. Sometimes I buy some rice for a balanced diet, to keep my children home to eat, which has elevated my status.”  

As Lorchoro has no other income outside of her husband’s daily work as a casual laborer, she plans to form a group of four women to carry out strict early vaccinations as a business. “Chicken vaccinations depend upon correct timing, and if I work efficiently and can be the first to have my chickens vaccinated, I can save the entire flock and escape kolera (the local word for Newcastle disease). It has a quick return compared to cattle which require huge monies for disease management. If I can use just 300 shillings ($0.09 US) per chicken per year, then later I sell it for 25,000 shillings ($2.50 US), I can build a small tin roof house for my children,” explains Lorchoro.

For more information on improving the small-scale production of chickens see this ECHO Technical Note by JOHN P. BISHOP, DVM, PHD on ECHOcommunity.