My recent visit to Burundi was peaceful, productive and enjoyable. I was in Burundi for six weeks and I stayed at Hope Africa University. Over the next few weeks, I will be reporting on my activities. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide an update on our newest development project that began about a year ago.
Just before I left for Burundi, I was highly flattered to receive a very nice e-mail message from Ambassador Ezechiel NIBIGIRA, Chair of the Board for Hope Africa University and Director of National Procurement for the Ministry of Finance. In reference to our newsletters, Ambassador NIBIGIRA said he is so glad to see what the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund is doing in his country. He continued by indicating that his wife, Madam Esperance MPAWGNIMANA, is a graduate of Hope Africa University (2007) and she has been able to develop her own development activities. Starting with 500 laying hens, she now has around 10,000 laying hens with an 85% egg production rate. “It has become a real business.” He suggested that we get together to talk about how his wife can share her experience and expertise in starting development activities.
When I arrived in Burundi, I was invited to join Ambassador Ezechiel NIBIBIRA and Madam Esperance MPAWGNIMANA in visiting their chicken and egg operations. The tour was amazing! It takes a lot of space, hen houses, feed and workers to care for 10,000 hens. It was exceedingly interesting, impressive, educational and inspiring.
At the end of the tour, we discussed how Madam Esperance could voluntarily share some of her time, experience and expertise with the development projects of the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund. We have a chickens and eggs development project. The project started off well but just after the hens began to lay eggs, the project ran out of money to provide the chickens with the good quality feed that is required for the hens to lay eggs. The hens quit laying eggs and the future of the project was in serious question. Accordingly, I asked Madam Esperance if she would be willing to meet with the project manager and me to determine if the project could be saved or if the project would need to take a different focus. She graciously agreed to the consultation.
To benefit further from Madam Esperance’s expertise and experience, the African Governing Committee of the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund decided to invite her to join the Committee. If she agrees, Madam Esperance will be serving on the African Governing Committee before the next Call for Proposals.
Producing Eggs to Support Poor Women at Mirango in KAMENGE Zone, Project Manager: Ernest MANIRAKIZA
The project was designed to improve the lives of 16 very poor women. The women would be organized into a participatory association and trained to operate, manage and govern the project, including direct involvement in feeding the chickens, selling the eggs and benefitting from the income generating activities. The project would purchase chicks and raise them to produce eggs, meat and manure which would be sold at reduced prices to benefit the other poor people in the surrounding community. The project would rent a henhouse and, initially, buy 120 chicks and hire a man for two months to feed the chicks and teach the women to feed the chicks on their own. In addition, the project would hire a man to serve as the night watchman. Once the chicks matured and started laying eggs, more chicks would be purchased. When the hens stop laying eggs, they would be sold for meat and the new hens will take over the production of eggs. The project is expected to be self-sustaining long into the future.
Start-up Activities and Accomplishments:
Thanks to Ernest MANIRAKIZA, the project manager who works at Hope Africa University and who is taking a Masters degree in Community Development, this development project has recruited some enthusiastic women; 16 needy women who are between 36- 60 years old. The women have been organized into a highly participatory association and have been trained to operate, manage and govern the project.
The Ntiwihebure Association, meaning Do Not Lose Hope, is well-organized and has elected an Executive Committee of five members; a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Counsellor (an advisor). The association has regular meetings and the members pay a small monthly membership fee.
The project started with 120 healthy one-day old chicks and expected the six-month old hens to start laying eggs in October. Once the chickens started laying eggs, the women would be responsible for collecting and selling the eggs. Most of the eggs would be sold at a nearby market but members of the association members would be able to purchase eggs at a reduced price. Now, the project has 100 ten-month old hens.
The hens started to lay eggs in October but because of serious inflation in Burundi, the project ran out of money to continue providing the good quality feed that is required for the hens to lay eggs. When the hens quit receiving the good feed, they stopped laying eggs. When the hens stopped laying eggs, the project lost its main source of income and the project was in big trouble.
CONSULTATION AND ONSITE VISIT
As promised, Madam Esperance met with Ernest MANIRAKIZA and me at Hope Africa University. Ernest explained the situation to Madame Esperance; the project could not buy the good feed, the hens quit laying eggs, the hens had not had good feed for two months and, without the income from the sale of eggs, the future of the project was in serious jeopardy.
After hearing about the circumstances and asking a number of questions, Madam Esperance said she thought the hens would start laying eggs again, if the development project started feeding the chickens the good quality feed and if the project ensured the hens were given some medicine.
During the consultation, the nature, quality, amount and cost of the feed were carefully reviewed. Madam Esperance suggested the project grind its own feed and she provided the formula for the feed. Madam Esperance said she thought the hens would start laying some eggs within a month’s time and there would be a good production of eggs by the end of the second month.
Following the consultation, we made an onsite visit to the project to see the chickens and the henhouse and meet with the association members. Madam Esperance thought the henhouse was satisfactory and the hens seemed healthy.
Ernest introduced Madam Esperance to the women. She described what needed to be done to get the hens laying eggs again and she encouraged the women to continue to work together. She allowed the women to ask questions. I was impressed with Madam Esperance’s expertise and her manner. Madam Esperance knows chickens and she communicates comfortably and effectively with everyone.
At the end of the consultation and onsite visit, Ernest thanked Madam Esperance for generously sharing her time and expertise. The association members thanked Madam Esperance for visiting the project and providing information, advice and encouragement.
MORE GOOD NEWS
- Less than a month after providing the good feed, some of the hens began to lay eggs. Before I left Burundi in February 24th, the hens produced six eggs one day and last week I learned that the number had risen to 36 eggs per day. Today, I received a report from the Ernest, the project manager, and he reports that the hens are producing 50 eggs per day and he expects the number to keep rising. So the hens are producing eggs, the women are selling the eggs, the income is back and the project is on track to becoming self-sustaining.
- Using a small field around the henhouse, the association members recently planted a crop of lenga lenga; a rapidly growing spinach-type vegetable. The crop did very well, the crop has been harvested and it will be consumed by the association members and their families. In harvesting the first crop, the association members planted another crop that will be sold to support the project.
- The owner of the henhouse accepted a proposal to reduce the henhouse rent. From the end of April, the project will pay only 30,000 francs per month instead of 50,000 francs until the association in making a considerable profit from the selling of eggs.
- Reporters from the National Radio came to visit the chickens and eggs development project. The aim of the visit was to develop a report that would tell all about the beginnings, objectives and activities of the association and the chickens and eggs development project.