Analysis: MUKATIMUI MUNDEA
MONGU is one of the 14 districts piloting the “1st 1,000 Most Critical Days Programme”. The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in Mongu is one of the implementers of the programme with the objective of creating social protection initiatives for the subsequent prevention of malnutrition.
Last year, the ministry scaled up the ‘Pass-On’ programme by procuring chickens and goats which were given to selected beneficiaries. The aim of the programme is to ensure that the small livestock multiply as women continue passing on the offspring to the next beneficiaries.
The selection of the would-be beneficiaries was done by the communities through the help of the Ward Nutrition Coordinating Committees (WNCCs )and the criteria were biased towards pregnant women and women with children under two years of age.
With chickens at home, the beneficiaries are benefiting from the eggs and chicken drops, which are used as manure for their home gardens, and also money realised from selling some old chickens.
From the money realised from the sales, some families are able to buy things like school uniforms, shoes, books, as well as seed for their farming.
Like many other community programmes, the ‘pass on’ programme in Mongu was not without challenges. In the first distribution, most first beneficiaries failed to multiply the chickens, and some multiplied but failed to pass on to others.
It was difficult for the district staff to follow up because no security measures were put in place to deal with selfish individuals who did not wish to share with others.
The District Community Development office did not lose hope. In the second procurement, the ministry instituted some measures that ensured the programme’s sustainability.
Since then, this programme has proved to be sustainable because of the way beneficiary groups were formed.
The first line and second line beneficiaries were selected at the same time, with the latter knowing which first beneficiary would pass on the chicken to them.
A local task force was created which ensures security of the chickens and motivated the first line beneficiaries to put in much effort and ensure that they do not disappoint their neighbours.
The whole process has been easier because of the linkages between the Ministry of Community Development and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock first trained the selected beneficiaries in small livestock management.
The training sessions were so intensive and practical that they ensured the basic livestock management skills were adopted by the communities.
During the training sessions, the ministry taught the beneficiaries how to erect ideal goat houses which are well ventilated, have enough space, and are raised to prevent diseases.
These goat houses were easily made using locally available materials. The ministry also helped in selecting good quality chickens and goats, transported, and vaccinated them.
The ministry also bought feeders and drinkers as a means of ensuring that the chickens are not just free-range, but are also fed and provided with clean water.
The ministry has also been monitoring the livestock to ensure that there is good growth.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock plans to set up a breeding centre for small livestock where it can multiply the chickens and goats and distribute them to the communities, thereby making programmes like the ‘Pass on’ sustainable beyond the lifespan of the Scaling Up Nutrition Programme.
The author is Assistant community development officer, Mongu district.
Analysis: MUKATIMUI MUNDEA