Backyard poultry - an alternative way to sustain food security and nutrition in Syria

Backyard poultry - an alternative way to sustain food security and nutrition in Syria

03/04/2014

Three years after the start of the crisis in Syria, people are finding it more and more difficult to meet their basic needs. Many have lost their livelihoods and are struggling to find alternative sources of income in a country where jobs have become scarce. With progressively increasing inflation and a steep depreciation of the Syrian pound, the remaining savings of Syrians will be rapidly depleted. Many have been already forced to adopt negative coping mechanisms which often have the most serious impact on their food security and nutrition.

In this context, female-headed households have been even more severely affected by the crisis. Those living in the rural areas of the country are amongst the most vulnerable as they often have little or no income, very limited savings and high recurring expenses. As a result, their resources can be easily exhausted, reducing their coping capacities and increasing their dependence on external support.

It is therefore crucial to find alternative solutions to sustain the food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable families, in particular those headed by women. Backyard poultry is an excellent way to enhance the availability of and access to micronutrients and protein-rich foods. Furthermore, it is an ideal activity for women as livestock- and poultry-keeping are done traditionally by female members of the household.

Thanks to funding from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), FAO is assisting 3 000 vulnerable households in Rural Damascus to restart or sustain their backyard poultry production. Each family is receiving 15 laying hens and 50 kg of poultry feed – sufficient for two months. Once the feed provided by FAO is finished, families will be able feed the hens following the local practices, through food scraps from the family. This assistance is enabling families to produce eggs for home consumption and enhance their protein intake, while surplus production can be sold in the local market or bartered.

This week, FAO started distributing in Qatana District in Rural Damascus, reaching 240 families with the first 3 600 hens; 165 are women-headed households.