Chicken are New Employers In Isiolo Town

Published June 2, 2016 by Dorothy Mwangi & Abdullatif Abby

Zainab Ali Yarow feeding her chicks

Imagine coming home every day to find your children aged 25 and 23 years old, unemployed, disillusioned and sitting in the yard with nothing to do due to rampant unemployment.  This is the plight of Seynab Abdillahi Ali Yarow, a 52 year old mother of 2 children who hold college diplomas in Burat Ward, Isiolo County.

She is a member of Mawazo Bora, a self-help group comprising of 16 members. Mawazo Bora is a Swahili name meaning “good thoughts”.  The group was established in 2012 to improve the welfare of their families through small-scale agriculture. The members started off with a small farm of a quarter acre, in a semi-arid land and with parched climate, planting vegetables and selling to nearby low-income communities. As demand went up, the members leased three acres of land in 2015 and increased their produce to include tomatoes, onions, chilies, bananas and spinach. The group was now convinced that farming was indeed a profitable endeavor.

“It was this proof of success that made us try a different livelihood activity?” said Seynab to her colleagues.

In September 2015, the group embarked on their first poultry project, whereby each member donated one chicken as their contribution to kick-start the project. One of the group members even contributed his land to the group, where they put up their first poultry house.

Thereafter, the members reached out to REGAL-IR (Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands-Improving Resilience), a USAID-funded project promoting resilience and economic growth in the arid lands to support them with capacity building on poultry keeping and business management. 

“We went to Embu, Nyeri, Nairobi, Kiambu, to learn about poultry farming,” said Seynab. “We are applying the skills we learned and have been progressively increasing our profit. For example, we are making a profit of 2,000 Kenya Shillings (USD 20) per day from the sale of eggs.”

In addition, the project supported the group by providing 500 chicks, construction of a poultry house and a water reservoir.

Seynab is excited about the future because the project is growing.  She now has the skills to run a poultry project and wants to borrow money from the group’s revolving kitty to start a small farm for her family.

“I want to give back to my family, so that my children and I can start an agribusiness similar to this one,” she says.

Seynab's son Abdul and his friend

Being the sole bread winner, Zeiynab encourages her children to start their own agribusinesses and not rely on formal employment for livelihood.  As she has watched the group activities grow from strength to strength, she firmly believes that she has what it takes to teach her young adults that chicken business can offer employment if done properly.   

REGAL-IR is supporting 2000 poultry projects in Isiolo County, helping communities build resilience through enhanced livelihood diversification.