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Can chickens help families affected by drought in Kenya?

14 November 2019

Climate change is causing recurring drought in Kenya. Providing chickens to families can give them an income to help them survive.

Nancy and children

Nancy Muthoni and her daughters Anita and Glory hold one of their chickens. Photo : Garry Walsh / Trócaire

In Embu county, in Eastern Kenya, the rains didn’t come this year as expected. Nancy Muthoni is struggling to provide meals for her family and to afford to send her children to school.


The rains used to come regularly, and Nancy could grow enough food. As the planet warms due to climate change, now Nancy and her community face drought nearly every year.


“When I was young there was enough rain. It would rain for a whole month” says Nancy. “This year it only rained for about two days”.


38 year old Nancy is a widow. Her husband passed away in 2006 and since then she has had to provide for her 6 children on her own.


Nancy lives in this semi-arid area of Kenya, in a home that is small and basic, made of wooden poles and mud, with a corrugated iron roof. There is no running water or electricity.


As she can no longer depend on the rains to grow food, she is forced to find other ways to provide an income so that she can buy food and pay for school fees. She engages in casual labour, such a collecting small stones used for construction.


Some days she does not have enough money to provide supper for her children. When this happens she needs to ask her relatives to support her, or she needs to borrow money.


People like Nancy have done the least to contribute to Climate Change, yet are already feeling its worst effects. Kenya’s carbon footprint is 25 times smaller than that of Ireland. Yet Kenya is already being hugely affected by this global problem. In 2019, over 3 million people in Kenya were affected by the failed rains.

Gifts Chicks Kenya

Nancy's daughter Glory holds one of their chickens. Photo : Gary Moore / Trócaire.

Chickens are a vital source of income


We are working with people affected by the drought to help them cope and survive. Trócaire’s local partner organisation, Caritas Ishiara, has supported Nancy and her family. She has received 5 chickens, as well as receiving training on how to care for her poultry and keep them free of disease. She has also joined other women nearby in a poultry group, where she connects with other women in the project and they learn from each other.


The chickens have made a significant difference to Nancy’s life and have helped her to earn an income. With the chickens she has been able to produce eggs for her family, and she has been able to sell some of the chickens as well as the eggs at the market. To feed her family, she has also been able to slaughter some of them.


When she needed to pay school fees to keep her children in school, she was able to sell five chickens to cover these costs. Education is very important to Nancy. “The benefit of education is that my children can generate an income and have skills to move on in life”.


Here in this challenging area of Kenya, these chickens have brought some hope to Nancy and her family. Many more families in Embu county are also being supported through this project.


Your generous support this Christmas can help families like Nancy’s in Kenya and other countries across the world. Please consider a Gift of a Chick for someone special this Christmas.