Implementing small-scale poultry-for-nutrition projects: Successes and lessons learned

Stella Nordhagen, Rolf Klemm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines Helen Keller International's model for nutrition-sensitive poultry production using a programme implemented in four diverse African contexts—three rural and one urban. Consecutive cross-sectional surveys conducted every 5 months among ~15% of participating households show that despite project-provided training and inputs, there was only limited uptake of many “best practices.” Few households constructed improved henhouses; vaccination rates varied and were highest when support was provided. Poultry mortality was high. Egg productivity remained average for village poultry systems, and egg consumption remained low (two to six eggs consumed per household per fortnight). However, children whose mothers were exposed to project messages on nutrition were more likely to eat eggs, and consumption was consistently higher among households with chickens. Women's involvement in chicken rearing was widespread, but their control over revenues from the sale of poultry products was limited. Key lessons learned from implementation were as follows: (a) strong behaviour change communication is needed to encourage egg consumption, (b) nutrition-sensitive village poultry programmes should often focus more on improved practices than improved breeds, (c) supporting women's chicken production is not a route to empowerment without complementary activities that directly support women's ownership and decision making. There is also a need for rigorous research on the role of village poultry in livelihoods, food systems, and consumption as well as the structure of poultry and egg markets in low-resource areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12676
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • animal source foods
  • eggs
  • gender
  • nutrition
  • nutrition-sensitive agriculture
  • small-scale poultry production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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