Feathering the nest in Togo
May 2011: “A chicken in every pot” was once said to be an indicator of prosperity and hope for the future. The phrase rings true in the Central Region of Togo where a Plan sponsored chicken-rearing program is assisting vulnerable families in the Kparatao community to improve their lives.
Mrs Kpetou Essowedeou is one of the new chicken farmers in Kparatao. “Because of Plan, I am no longer embarrassed to face my three children when they ask for breakfast money before leaving for school. I never knew how chickens could bring a smile to our faces.”
Tough times, desperate situations
Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated GNI (Gross National Income) of US $ 440 per person, it ranks within the last 10 globally. The economy is primarily agricultural. In rural areas like Kparato, about a four-hour drive from the coastal capital of Lome, the situation can be especially desperate with families struggling to survive. Families like the Essowedeous.
The Essowedeous were able to produce barely enough from their fields to feed themselves. They sold condiments and firewood to earn extra money for the children’s school, health care, additional food items and supplies including fertilizer for the fields. The profits from these sales rarely exceeded US $ 0.20 per day.
Nine months ago, Mrs Essowedeou attended a meeting sponsored by Plan that would change her life with chickens.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
In 2010, Plan Togo presented information and requirements for a chicken breeding and production programme to benefit the livelihoods of 100 families including the Mrs. Essowedeou’s in Kparatao. The women would be trained, provided assistance to start their own poultry farms and guided in marketing their products in Sokode, the region’s largest city.
For most in the programme, caring for the chickens is a family affair. Mrs Essowedeou’s husband helps to maintain the coop. After school, her children volunteer to help feed and care for the chickens. The turnover for the Essowedeou farm has increased from 1200 CFA to 5000 CFA (US $2.00 to $ 10.00), the profits are used to provide for basic family needs. "The chickens have changed our lives, we now think about the future without fear," explained Mrs Essowedeou.
The women involved were empowered by their experience and the increased ability; it brought them to care for their children. They now serve as examples for other women to achieve financial security by producing and selling products that the market demands.
The market for poultry products – meat and eggs – continues to grow in Sokode, where a chicken in every pot does improve the prosperity of the poor in Kparatao.
Read more about Plan's work in Togo.