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This Working Paper for the South Asia regional hub of the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative presents the case for using poultry, in very small units of 5-10 adult birds, as a means of alleviating the poverty of rural women in the region. Policies and procedures that affect the success of such initiatives are examined. The author draws on personal experience and an extensive literature review. The main focus of the paper is a review of what is known as the Bangladesh Model. Emphasising that this is not a static model, the author explains its evolution by Bangladesh's largest NGO, BRAC, working with the government department responsible for livestock services. The main feature of the model is that the supply of inputs and services are turned into income earning opportunities for poor people. The focus is on poverty reduction, rather than on increasing the supply of eggs and poultry meat. The main components are the involvement of NGOs that have access to groups of very poor women, the provision by NGOs of micro-credit and training to help groups establish small, semi-scavenging, egg-laying units, and special training for poultry workers, feed distributors and egg traders. The Bangladesh model has been incorporated into several major, Danida-sponsored development projects. The paper includes a discussion of its impact on poor families, and the policy and institutional implications that have arisen, in particular the role of government support in terms of the provision of veterinary and other services, research and training. The Bangladesh experience is contrasted to that of India where, in some States, the commercial sector has a strong presence. The author recommends that a survey be undertaken in India and Nepal that should examine livestock policies at (selected) State and at central level. The experiences of NGOs that have used poultry as a means of alleviating poverty should be explored and also the degree to which understanding, skills and knowledge exist in organisations responsible for policy, field level implementation, and research and training.


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