The City of Harare has maintained that it will not relax city by-laws on the rearing of chickens in residential areas.
Speaking to Harare News, Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi maintained that the city will stick to the stipulated By-Laws of 25 chickens per household. The town clerk cited health consequences that the city may encounter if the regulations are ignored. He said the City is commissioning a study to ascertain the implications of rearing chickens in large quantities in residential areas. But until that process is done, residents are encouraged to observe the current by-laws.
“We have to consider the health of the people first. Experience has shown that chickens carry diseases which can have fatal consequences to a large section of the population, as they spread fast,” said Mahachi.
Debate on chicken rearing has reached fever pitch as some residents argued that the city is being insensitive to the plight of its residents and they need this kind of venture to help them augment their meagre earnings.
The Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR), which has done wide research on chicken products, says that as much as 20 percent of poultry products eaten in Harare and adjacent towns are raised in urban environments. CALR attributes this to the rise in demand for meat products.
“What has been missing is information related to the conditions in which these chickens are reared. In Asia several thousand people died of bird flu virus, and we don’t want it to happen here. In our case, we might have to contend with an increase in diarrhoeal diseases as hygiene standards are compromised,” contested the Town Clerk.
According to the Public Health Department, Harare City By-Laws section 25 allows residents to keep up to 25 chickens on residential stands, unless special license is obtained from the city health department,
Dr Prosper Chonzi, the City Health Director, explains that the by-law does not ban chicken rearing but sets standards that should be met by residents. The by-law states, “No person shall keep any poultry other than in a poultry house, the floor of which shall be constructed of impervious materials, with a runway enclosed with wire netting or other suitable material. No fowl run shall be nearer than 3 metres from the stand boundary, or nearer than 6 metres from any premises (house) used for human habitation. Every poultry house shall be kept thoroughly clean and free from decaying food, vermin, and filth of any kind. No person shall keep poultry which by reason of continued crowing, quacking, clucking, gobbling or like noise tends to destroy the comfort of the neighbourhood. No person shall keep any poultry in such a manner or in such numbers that they tend to injure the health or destroy the comfort of any person.”
Dr Chonzi stated that “The by-laws also states that, it is acceptable to kill one or two a day for home consumption but slaughter for commercial purposes must be done at a registered chicken abattoir. Offal and feathers are not to be discarded into the sewage system, but be buried within the owner’s yards. Chickens should have fresh water and suitable food available at all times. Clean, dry grass bedding or wood shavings must be provided and this should be changed regularly.” Dr Chonzi went on to say that given the nature of housing patterns in the capital, environmental issues associated with keeping huge number of chickens should be given top priority as these have the potential to cause major diseases.