In many parts of the world December is the season of giving, and so this month I thought that it would be interesting to look at a project that aims to improve the lives of children affected by HIV and AIDS.

The Poultry Project was set up in 2006 to help HIV/AIDS-affected children in Uganda. It works with the largest indigenous HIV/AIDS support organization in Africa to provide children with chickens and support to develop sustainable, small-scale poultry holdings.

At the time of writing, the Poultry Project was in the process of sorting through entries for its 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition. The competition was open to all worldwide, on payment of a $10 entry fee, and looked for coop designs that could be used in urban or suburban backyards.

While certainly the competition had a fun element, it nevertheless sought to serve a serious purpose. As well has having to meet a set of strict requirements in terms of space, ventilation, and access to feed and water, it is planned that the winning designs will be considered for commercial manufacture and could be modified for use by Poultry Project participants in Uganda.

As far as materials were concerned, entrants were encouraged to be creative and reuse and repurpose. Submissions have come from around the world including from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and the winning designs are due to go on display in the US towards the end of the year.

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The Poultry Project is a new scheme for me and, from the little that I have learnt about it, it seems to be doing some great work with people who have had a far from easy start in life. It is not alone, however, in helping local communities as you will see across the pages of the December issue of Poultry International.

Encouraging small scale initiatives of this type can make a huge difference to the lives of individual communities, but there are longer-term aspects to be considered. We repeatedly hear of how demand for food will continue upwards over the years ahead. This demand will come largely from developing nations.

These are countries that do not have the infrastructure or facilities enjoyed in many developed economies. Additionally, there are a fewer large scale purchasers, making trade more difficult.

Fostering small-scale initiatives is one way that we can ensure that people don’t go hungry, and there must be many ways that the poultry industry can play its part and make a brighter future. Worth thinking about, especially during the season of giving.