Small-scale poultry production is an integral part of livelihoods in Nigeria, contributing to households’ income, food and nutrition security, and gender equality (Kushi et al. 1998; Houndonougbo 2005; Obi et al. 2008). Almost 60 percent of Nigeria’s 150 million poultry population is managed by household level poultry producers, in semi-commercial and non-commercial, small-scale, backyard, or village extensive production systems (Obi et al. 2008). The small-scale poultry production system is often defined as keeping up to 500 birds, managed mainly by family labor, and having minimal inputs and minimal to no biosecurity (Obi et al. 2008).
The Nigerian poultry subsector has been widely affected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Numerous outbreaks between January 2006 and July 2008 have rendered the HPAI disease status in this country as endemic. The outbreaks occurred in all poultry production systems, including backyard/village extensive ones (Obi et al. 2008). According to the records of the World Bank-funded Avian Influenza Control Program, between February 2007 and January 2008, N623,077,880 (US$4,215,683) has been paid to compensate farmers whose birds were culled. No information is available on the costs of culling, diagnostic testing of samples, cleaning and disinfection, and other administrative costs (Obi et al. 2008).
Studies on the economic costs of these outbreaks show evidence of detrimental impacts including significantly reduced demand for poultry and poultry products resulting in steep declines in sales, up to 100 percent loss in poultry incomes of producers (UNDP 2006; Obi et al. 2008), and substantial employment losses in the poultry sector (UNICEF/AED 2008).
While these data help provide insight into impacts of HPAI on local livelihoods, these studies were limited to a regional focus based on data collected from targeted areas. The dearth of countrywide quantitative econometric studies on the role of poultry in Nigerian livelihoods limits the ability to assess the impact of an HPAI outbreak to make informed policy decisions (Obi et al. 2008).
This brief aims to fill this research gap by using nationally representative Nigeria Living Standards Survey data (NLSS 2003-2004) and econometric models to assess the livelihood impacts of HPAI by (i) investigating factors that affect participation in small-scale poultry production and profiling those households most likely to be poultry producers and those most likely to keep larger flocks, and (ii) assessing the potential impact of HPAI supply and demand shocks on various livelihood outcomes.