Can one chicken make a difference to a child's health?



Podcast chapters

1:55     A village in Siaya County, west Kenya

4:07     Why can't we just give people more chickens?

5:50     What's Newcastle disease?

8:54     Why linking livestock to children's health is hard

10:34   What did the study do?

12:32  Why chickens can have huge impact for rural communities

16:58   What next?


In 2014 a survey found that a quarter of children under 5 in western Kenya were stunted. Stunting creates lifelong, chronic health issues and worse mental development. Better nutrition can help avoid stunting, but can be a struggle for families that are already lacking money, resources and access to support.

Siaya County residents and smallholder farmers Joseph Otieno and his wife, in front of their chicken coop.

What if there was a way to empower families by improving a simple resource that they already have?

In the first episode of season 3 of The Boma, we visit Siaya County with researcher Elkanah Otiang and his colleagues from the Kenya Medical Research Institute. In rural communities, chickens are a small but ubiquitous livestock. What benefits do they provide to families - and children's health? Could we tackle stunting and undernutrition in children - by targeting interventions at chickens? 

Siaya County resident Cynthia Awuor standing with her son and her father.

Animal health and gender researcher Zoe Campbell, a co-author of the study, also knows that health interventions can affect girls differently from boys. She joins us to explain what they found.

The study this episode reports on was a finalist for the 2022 Cozzarelli Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences.




Read more:

About Siaya County

Newcastle disease is the main cause of mortality in rural chicken flocks

7.5 million Kenyans in rural communities live on less than USD 2 a day

Vaccinating chickens against Newcastle disease improves the growth of children in rural Kenyan communities

The 2022 Cozzarelli Prize