Shakira learns how to raise chickens

Adolescent nutrition

Naomi Kalemba
Shakira with her chickens. She has learnt how to raise chickens from Afikepo supported care group
UNICEF Malawi/2021/HD Plus
04 July 2022

Shakira Kausiwa takes good care of her chickens and likes to see they are growing and multiplying.

“I bought two chickens,” says Kausiwa. “With help and advice from the nutrition promoter, my chickens have multiplied to 18,” says Kausiwa.

The 17-year-old secondary school student from Mwana-Mulanje in Mulanje District has learned to build chicken farming into her daily routine without taking time away from her schoolwork.

“Before I leave for school, I clean the chicken kraal, leaving it dry and warm. Cleanliness and warmth promote breeding and egg laying. I also feed the chickens and leave fresh water. Sometimes I put herbs in the water to keep them free from worms.”

Kausiwa acquired her new skills from her participation in Kuwala care group. The care group was established and is coached by a “nutrition promoter” in her area.

The promoter was trained in diet diversification and how to grow a variety of nutritious crops by staff from the Afikepo Project, supported by UNICEF and FAO with funding from the European Union.

Shakira with the herbs that she uses to keep her chicken’s worms free
UNICEF Malawi/2021/HD Plus
Shakira with the herbs that she uses to keep her chicken’s worms free

The Kuwala care group has two components: the adult and adolescent sections. Kausiwa is part of the adolescent section which has 20 members, 11 girls and nine boys. They meet every Saturday for coaching and mentorship sessions with the promoter. She mentors and coaches them in nutrition, sanitation, and agriculture.  
Kausiwa says she used some of the eggs and chickens to enrich her diet.

“The nutrition promoter encourages us to eat food from all the food groups. Eggs and chicken meat help with my family’s diet.”

“I also sell chicken eggs and will start selling the chickens once they multiply.”

Through Afikepo, Kausiwa has also learned how to help maintain sanitation her home, and how to keep all household utensils clean. She has also learned how to keep herself clean to prevent diseases.  "It is important to keep clean to prevent diseases like diarrhoea. I always wash my hands with soap before eating, after using the toilet and when I’m cooking," she adds.
Apart from keeping chickens, Kausiwa and other adolescents from Kuwala care group grow maize and a variety of high-nutrient dense vegetables for their consumption and for selling. Last year they grew beetroots, carrots, onions, tomatoes, various leafy vegetables, and pumpkins. They eat some of the vegetables and sold the rest.
Kausiwa says being part of the Afikepo care group also helps her in school. “Instead of roaming around the village, we spend our Saturdays learning about agriculture, sanitation and nutrition.”

“In school lessons are mostly theoretical. I utilize the practical experience from the care group to better understand the theories,” she explains.
Some 395 adolescents from five traditional areas in Mulanje are involved in Afikepo care groups where nutrition promoters are collaborating with youths and adults to reduce Malnutrition.