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Heifer Sierra Leone Country Director Rashid Sesay, Joseph Buckle, Roland Suluku, Foday Koroma (of Njala University), Heifer Senior Project Officer Val Koker and volunteer Dr. Luciano Gajutos hammer out the details (not pictured, West Africa Regional Director Elizabeth Bintliff).

At a long table in Heifer Sierra Leone's headquarters, six men and one woman debate and discuss poultry mortality rates, the price for a bag of chicken manure (to be used as fertilizer), whether and how smallholder farmers can get high-quality feed, the cost of construction for housing chickens, coordination of farming schedules, veterinary care and access to medicines, marketing and far more details than I can get into here.

The occasion is a two-day "write shop" to develop and polish a $1.6 million proposal to the European Union for a project that would reduce food insecurity and increase resiliency among 5,000 vulnerable rural households in Kailahun and Koinadugu Districts of Sierra Leone. The project would target families with pregnant women or lactating mothers. Participants in the write shop include poultry experts from Njala University, a volunteer veterinarian, Heifer's Senior Project Officer, Country Director and West Africa Area Director.

Heifer International doesn't work extensively with poultry in Africa, but there is a great need and market for fresh eggs here. Besides addressing the immediate need, this project will also focus on sustainability by training trainers in the target populations. These women will provide technical training to subsequent families so that they may keep the program going and ultimately raise the income and nutrition levels of more families.

The proposal is due August 25, so keep your fingers crossed.


Bill Fitzgerald