Three years ago, the African swine fever virus was introduced to the Commune of Kyon. The highly contagious disease decimated the pig population in the community, and has continued to kill free-ranging pigs in unpredictable outbreaks. The virus has placed a huge financial burden on women who traditionally raise pigs for weddings and funerals and rely on those profits as a primary income source. Surveys of 115 women displayed a combined loss of 661 pigs over two years.
The swine fever virus poses a significant threat to food security in Kyon; it has reduced the availability of a major protein source, and it has reduced the incomes of women, who use their profits to feed their families. The women of Kyon mobilized to reclaim their income source. After learning from the regional veterinarian that pigpens were the best method of disease prevention, they met with their community Peace Corps Volunteer to discuss opportunities for collaboration with Peace Corps and the USAID West Africa Food Security Partnership through access to food security-focused grants.
Over the last year, 31 women have received assistance and completed the construction of a pigpen. The pigpens have significantly reduced swine fever transmission; average pig loss per year for each participant has fallen to 0.7, verses 2.9 pigs per year prior to the project implementation. This reduction by 76% indicates an estimated savings of $130 per year per participant. Beneficiary Marie Kando expressed her confidence in the efficacy of the pigpens after her pigs lived through an outbreak of the swine fever that killed all of her neighbor’s free-range pigs.
This project also placed a large focus on capacity building. Five men were trained in construction techniques for pigpens, and the 31 participants attended trainings on general pig care, and on business skills and profitability. The participants of this project have not only stabilized their small enterprises, but they now have an increased capacity for running that enterprise.