Women, village chickens, and animal source food consumption in Timor-Leste
This blog by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) discusses promotors and inhibitors of animal source food consumption in rural households. It focuses on the links between village chickens, maternal and child diets, and nutritional status in Timor-Leste. Village chickens are where women, livestock, and nutrition intersect, which is discussed in this article. Chickens are particularly important in households with few other assets. Importantly, chickens are often the only livestock women have complete control over, giving them additional significance in women’s empowerment and household nutrition. In Timor-Leste, 82 percent of all livestock-owning households own chickens; however, flock sizes are small due to disease and predation. Theoretically, increasing local production of chickens and eggs can lead to increased consumption, but it may not. It is important to understand the positive influences and barriers to animal source food consumption within households. Women are largely responsible for finding, preparing, and distributing food within the household; however, decisions about the variety of foods consumed are constrained by time, money, and nutritional knowledge. Village chickens are an important component of household food security, they can be sold or slaughtered when in need of food. To increase chicken production in Timor-Leste, it is important to control Newcastle disease, for which a gender-sensitive program to vaccinate chickens was piloted. Increasing village chicken and egg production using a gender-sensitive approach has great potential to improve the nutritional status of women and children in vulnerable households.