Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (2) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Strengthening HIV/AIDS food security mitigation mechanisms through village poultry

J C Moreki, B Poroga* and R Dikeme*

Department of Animal Production, Ministry of Agriculture,
Private Bag 0032, Gaborone, Botswana.
* Botswana Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, PO Box 1599, Mogoditshane, Botswana.


Good nutrition is crucial for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) who need more calories and protein than uninfected individuals. Village chickens play an important role in poverty alleviation, food security, nutrition and household incomes because they provide carers (who are predominantly women) of the sick with additional resources to carry out their important task of supporting PLWHA.

A study was conducted in Kopong, Mogobane and Otse in southern Botswana involving randomly selected 46 beneficiaries of BONEPWA+/SIDA food security project. The objective of the study was to assess the contribution of village poultry on nutrition, income generation and household food security of PLWHA. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and through direct observation.

Forty-five (37 females and 9 males) respondents reared chickens and 44 (95.65%) of them were unemployed. In this study, the average flock size per household was 22.5111.79 while the average price of adult chicken was P49.43.6.92, representing about US$7. The rearers kept chickens for relish (consumption) and as an income source. About 84.78% of the respondents reared chickens for relish and consumption, 13.04% for income and 2.17% for consumption only. About 72% of the rearers regulary consumed chicken meat, 21.74% ocassionally consumed chicken meat while the remainder did not consume chicken meat. Money from sale of chickens was used for groceries, school fees, transport, medication, utilities (electricity and water bills), chicken feeds, building materials, as well as, purchase of smallstock (sheep and goats). In the present study, 22 (47.83%) respondents purchased smallstock using money from sale of chickens. These results indicate that village poultry play an important role in economic empowerment and improvement of food security, nutrition and household incomes of PLWHA. 

Keywords: Chickens, economic empowerment, HIV/AIDS, income, nutrition


Village chickens play a significant role in poverty alleviation and improvement of family food security (Adongo, 2004) in many poor rural households of the developing countries. In Botswana, village chickens comprise mainly local chickens which are referred to as Tswana chickens. According to Alders et al (2007a) in Mozambique, village chickens provide a scarce animal protein in the form of meat and eggs and can be sold or bartered to meet essential family needs such as medicines, clothes and school fees. Alders et al (2007b) reported that village chickens contribute to HIV/AIDS mitigation mainly through improved household food security and income generation. Eggs in particular, offer an important source of nutrition and are one of the best sources of quality protein. Again, eggs supply various vitamins (e.g., vitamins B6 and B12) and can be stored for a couple of days under village conditions. 

Botswana has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world. In all the districts HIV prevalence is higher in women than men (Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA), 2006). The HIV/AIDS epidemic has resulted in increased orphans as both parents die from AIDS. Therefore, in 2005 Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) supported a local food security poultry program in Botswana through Botswana Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (BONEPWA+) to contribute to equitable reduction of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty (Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART), 2006) among people infected and affected with HIV/AIDS and other vulnerable groups. Table 1 gives HIV prevalence rates in some selected districts of Botswana.

Table 1. Estimated HIV prevalence rates in some selected districts of Botswana (Source: Central Statistics Office 2009)



HIV prevalence rate by gender (%)


Overall (%)















Central Serowe




Central Bobonong




Central Tutume




Kweneng East




North East




Ngamiland East








Kgalagadi South




South East




Livestock, especially poultry species, have shown to provide a practical and effective first source of cash, quality nutrients in human diet, and are often essential for meeting important social and cultural needs and obligations (Mack et al 2005). According to Goe (2005), some strategies employed by HIV/AIDS affected households to achieve food security include raising poultry and selling livestock products. Therefore, a study was conducted in Kopong, Mogobane and Otse in southern Botswana to assess the contribution of village poultry on nutrition, income generation and household food security of PLWHA. These villages are among the 28 where the SIDA/BONEPWA+ partnership has taken place. 

Materials and methods 

A study was conducted in Otse and Mogobane in South East district and Kopong in Kweneng district. Compared to other districts South East and Kweneng have low HIV prevalence rates (Table 1). Data were collected using a structured questionnaire which was administered to 46 households (21 in Mogobane, 13 in Otse and 12 in Kopong) randomly selected across the villages. The main data captured in the questionnaire included demographic characteristics, consumption, marketing, HIV/AIDS and nutrition/household income, as well as, extension service provision. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) software.

Results and discussion

Demographic characteristics

Forty-five (97.8%) out of the 46 respondents said they reared chickens. In addition, 44 (95.6%) respondents said they were unemployed while two (4.35%) were employed in the informal sector. In this study, chickens were kept for relish (consumption) and as a source of income. Thirty-nine (84.8%) respondents kept chickens for consumption and income, six (13.0%) for income only while only one respondent (2.17%) kept chickens for consumption. These results support Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) (2006) who reported that good nutrition is very crucial for PLWHA who need more calories and protein than uninfected individuals. ECA (2006) states that malnourished HIV-infected people progress more quickly to AIDS and that nutrition is critically important for people on anti-retro viral therapy (ART). In addition, Pandey and Muliokela (2006) reported that poor nutrition makes HIV-positive people more vulnerable for infection and hastens progression to AIDS.

A total of 37 (80.4%) respondents were females while the remainder was males. Additionally, 27 (58.7%) respondents were single, 15 (32.61%) married, three (6.52%) widowed while one (2.17%) respondent was divorced. These results support Alders et al (2007a, 2007b) who argued that chickens can play an important role because they provide women with additional resources to carry out their important task of supporting PLWHA. In the current study, the average age of respondents was 54.614.9 years and the range was 27 to 85 years.

According to Table 2, the majority of the respondents had primary education followed by secondary and teriary education, respectively. In this study, 32.61% of the respondents never attended school. A slightly lower illiteracy rate of 28.3% was reported by Ogola et al (2010) in Kenya. Mutangadura (2005) argued that in terms of agricultural production and improving rural livelihoods in the context of HIV/AIDS, illiteracy leads to inability to understand and adopt new technologies, accessing credit, acccessing HIV/AIDS prevention messages, inability to know their rights and support mechanisms that are available. 

Table 2. Educational status of respondents



% Response










No schooling






 Flock size

The total number of chickens reared by the respodents across the districts were 2316, whereas average flock size per household was 22.511.8. The flock sizes ranged from 2 to 70 chickens. Increased flock sizes in the present study could be attributable to vaccination campaigns and training investments undertaken by BONEPWA+/SIDA program. Moreki (2010) reported slightly lower flock size range per houshold of 1-20 birds in a recent study in Serowe-Palapye Subdistrict. Similar results were reported by Kugonza et al (2008) in Uganda.

 Consumption and marketing of chicken and eggs

A total of 33 (71.7%) of the respondents said that they regularly slaughtered birds for consumption, 10 (21.7%) ocassionally consumed chicken meat, whereas three (6.52%) respondents said they did not eat chicken meat. Furthermore, 23 (50%) respondents indicated that they did not consume eggs as they used them mainly for breeding purposes, 22 (47.8%) ate eggs while only one (2.17%) respondent did not give a response on egg consumption. Only five respondents indicated that they consume eggs in summer as during this period hatchability is low due to high temperature, high relative humidity and heavy parasite populations. The result on consumption of eggs in summer is in agreement with Moreki (2010) and Moreki et al (2010).. 


As shown in Table 3, the price of chicken was higher in Kopong followed by Otse and Mogobane. It is clear from Table 3 that chicken prices tended to increase as the villages got closer to the urban centres (Otse and Kopong) compared to villages in the rual areas such as Mogobane. The average price of an adult chicken across the villages is P49.436.92, representing about US$7.00. This indicates that Tswana chickens fetched higher prices than exotic commercial chickens. Similar results were reported by Emuron et al (2010) in Uganda.

Table 3. Average retail price (Pula) of a bird in three villages


Average price/bird











Overall average price



Exchange rate: 1USD = P6.78

 A summary of the uses of money from sale of chickens across the villages is illustrated in Figure 1. Money from the sale of chickens was used for various purposes including purchase of chicken feeds, building materials, groceries, transport, payment of school fees, purchase of school requisites (i.e., uniforms, pens and books), purchase of smallstock (sheep and goats), utilities (ie., water and electricity bills) and for medical check-ups. In order of importance, money was used for chicken feeds; groceries and trasport; groceries, transport and school fees; chicken feeds and transport; and feeds, groceries and trasnport (Figure 1). The PLWHA used money from chicken sales for transport to the hospitals for medical check-ups and ARV therapy. These results support Alders et al (2007b) who reported that village chickens contribute to HIV/AIDS mitigation mainly through improved household food security and income generation. Datta and Njuguna (2009) argue that food security determines the wellbeing of the affected households, its current and future ability to develop livelihood options, its ability to mitigate the impacts of HIV/AIDS; and prevent new HIV infections.

Forty-four (95.65%) respondents said that chickens played an important role in the improvement of household income and hence contributed to economic empowerment and improved food security. According to the rearers, chickens are often sold to buy household necessities including groceries, utensils and building materials. As mentioned eralier, money from the sale of chickens is also used to pay for utilities, medical fees, labour for preparing vegetable plots and school fees including purchase of school requisites. Also, money from chicken sales is used to pay for transport fees to the hospital to enable respondents to receive medical treatment or to undergo monthly medical check-ups. Furthermore, the respondents mentioned that after rearing chickens, they are no longer dependent on government “food basket” as they are now able to sell chickens to meet their daily needs. The exit of respondents from “food basket” saves government some money which could be used for other developmental purposes. Again, some respondents mentioned that chickens have given them back their respect in the society and have also taken them out of poverty. In addition, chickens gave respondents financial independence as they no longer depend on other people for sustenance. Only one respondent said she planned to save money in the bank while the other respondent would like to purchase a cow in the future. The contribution of chickens to household income in this study can be summarized by a statement from one respondent who said “chickens have enabled me to have a great life”. These results are in agreement with Adongo (2004).

Figure 1. A summary of uses of money from sale of chickens

 As shown in Table 4, 22 (17 females and 5 males) respondents purchased 28 smallstock stock (Otse – 12, Mogobane – 10 and Kopong – 6) using money from chicken sales. Smallstock provide rearers with rich protein sources (milk and meat) and is a source of income. In addition, smallstock provide skins which can be sold raw or processed into mats, which can either be sold or used by respondents. Kopong had the highest percentage of respondents that purchased smallstock compared to other villages. These results demonstrate that village chickens play a significant role in economic empowerment, income generation and household food security. Also, village poultry rearing is a stepping stone to rearers keeping large stock such as smallstock and cattle.

Table 4. Ownership of smallstock by gender
























*Values in brackets are percentages

HIV/AIDS, nutrition and household income

Thirty-nine (84.8%) respondents said they were members of support groups while only seven (15.2%) respondents were not. In the present study, the respondents that were not members of the support groups are home-based care volunteers and people with disabilities. It is clear from Figure 2 that the majority of respondents joined support groups to help in giving psychosocial support and to counsel PLWHA followed by others (17.4%) and those that needed counselling following HIV-infection (10.9%). In Figure 2, others comprise supporting each other with counselling, to train communities about household food security, to strengthen a group, to keep himself/herself busy as they were unemployed, because most family members were affected by HIV/AIDS and also because they are beneficiaries of the BONEPWA+ food security project. Although most of the support group members are HIV positive, only 10.9% of the respondents revealed their HIV status.

Figure 2. A summary of responses on support group membership across the villages

In the present study, the roles of support group members varied from coordination of support group members to assisting in the administeration of prescription, providing counselling to the sick and their families, as well as, offering care to patients including bathing and feeding them. These results demonstrate that support groups play an important role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

All the respondents (100%) said that chickens played an important role in their nutrition mainly through meat and to some extent eggs. Even respondents that did not keep chickens at the time of the interview acknowledged the contribution of chickens in human nutrition. According to the rearers, chickens provided relish and hence were the main supplier of protein to the households.

All the respondents were directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS and 329 family members across the villages. The fact that all the respondents are affected by HIV/AIDS indicate the gravity of the situation across the villages. The average numbers of people per household affected by HIV/AIDS are summarized in Table 5. Otse has the highest number of family members that are affected by HIV/AIDS while Mogobane had the lowest. 

Table 5. Number of individuals per household affected by HIV/AIDS


Average and SD







Overall average


 The role of extension service

Thirty seven respondents (80.4%) received support from BONEPWA+ and the remainder (19.6%) from Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) extension services. The services offered by BONEPWA+ covered purchase of chickens and medication ((39.6%)) followed by technical assistance (15.2%), whereas the least service received involved medication and feeds (2.17%). It is clear from these results that BONEPWA+ plays an important role in empowering Tswana chicken rearers than MoA. These results point to the inadequacy of extension service provision by MoA. Given the important roles played by village poultry in food security and improved household incomes of the economically disadvantaged groups, it is crucial for the MoA extension services to start playing an active role in village chicken production through intensified farmer education.



The authors wish to thank the interviewees who kindly shared their knowledge with us. Messrs M. Sankwasa and B. Mogorosi are also thanked for assistance with data entry.


Adongo J 2004 Comparative advantage of a thermotolerant I-2 vaccine in the control of Newcastle disease in village chickens in Ghana. Rural Poultry E-Newsletter, Third Edition – March 2004. GRM International PTY LTD. 2.

Alders R, Bagnol B, gos Anjos F and Young, M P 2007a Promotion of HIV/AIDS mitigation and wildlife conservation through improved village poultry production in Southern Africa.

Alders R, Bagnol B, Harun M, and Young, M P 2007b Village poultry, food security and HIV/AIDS mitigation. LEISA Magazine 23 September 2007. 20-21.

BDPA (Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis), 2006 Prospects for Export Diversification in Botswana. Gaborone, Botswana.

Central Statistics Office 2009 Stats Brief: Preliminary Botswana HIV/AIDS Impact Survey III (BAIS III), 2008. No. 2009/8 May 2009.

Datta D and Njuguna J 2009 Food security in HIV/AIDS response: Insights from Homa Bay, Kenya. Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS 6(4). 170-178.

ECA (Economic Commision for Africa) 2006 Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on smallholder agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods in Southern Africa: Challenges and action plan.

Emuron N, Magala H, Kyazze F B, Kugonza D R and Kyarisiima C C 2010 Factors influencing the trade of local chickens in Kampala city markets. Livestock Research for Rural Development 22 (1). April 01, 2010, from

Goe M R 2005 Linkages in livestock production and HIV/AIDS in countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. Working paper prepared for the Animal Production Service, Animal Production and Health, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy.

GART (Golden Valley Agricultural Trust) 2006 Botswana – The local poultry program, In: GART Year Book 2006. Pp. 133-136.

Kugonza D R, Kyarisiima C C and Iisa A 2008 Indigenous chicken flocks of Eastern Uganda: I. Productivity, management and strategies for better performance. Livestock Research for Rural Development 20(9). March 11, 2010, from

Mack S, Hoffman D, and Otte J 2005 The contribution of poultry to rural development. World’s Poultry Science Journal, Vol. 61.7-13.

Moreki J C 2010 Village poultry production in Serowe-Palapye sub-district of Botswana. Livestock Research for Rural Development 22(3).

Moreki J C, Dikeme R, and Poroga B 2010 The role of village poultry in food security and HIV/AIDS mitigation in Chobe District of Botswana. Livestock Research for Rural Development 22(3).

Mutangadura G B 2005 Gender, HIV/AIDS and rural livelihoods in Southern Africa: Addressing the challenges. A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies.

Ogola T D O, Nguyo W K and Kosgey I S 2010. Dairy goat production practices in Kenya: Implications for a breeding programme. Livestock Research for Rural Development 22 (1). February 04, 2010, from

Pandey G S and Muliokela S W 2006 Smallholder dairy farming: A tool for HIV/AIDS mitigation and food in-security. 9th May, 2006, Pamodzi Hotel Lusaka, Zambia

Received 22 May 2010; Accepted 22 May 2010; Published 1 February 2011

Go to top