Backyard poultry raising in Bangladesh: A valued resource for the villagers and a setting for zoonotic transmission of avian influenza. A qualitative study

R. Sultana, N. Nahar, N. A. Rimi, S. Azad, M. S. Islam, E. S. Gurley, S. P. Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Introduction: Backyard poultry raising is common in rural communities and a valued resource that provides food and income for subsistence farmers. Close contact with infected backyard poultry has been associated with H5N1 human cases in different countries. The emergence of this virus within Bangladesh means that backyard poultry raisers are at risk of avian influenza infections. The aim of this study was to understand why people raise backyard poultry and to characterize people's regular interaction with their poultry. Methods: In 2008, a qualitative study was conducted in two villages from two districts of Bangladesh. In a social mapping exercise the villagers drew all the households in their village: 115 households in the village in Netrokona and 85 households in the village in Rajshahi District. Selected were 40 households (20 households from each of the two villages) for data collection through in-depth interviews (n=40) and household mapping (n=40), and observation sessions (n=16). Results: In both villages, 92% of households raised backyard poultry. The majority of the owners was female and used the money earned from poultry raising to purchase cooking ingredients, clothing, and agricultural seeds, and pay for children's education expenses. The households consumed poultry meat and eggs. In the village in Netrokona, 80% (85/106) of households kept poultry inside the bedroom. In the village in Rajshahi, 87% (68/78) of households had separate cage/night sheds. During feeding the poultryand cleaning the poultry raising areas, villagers came into contact with poultry and poultry feces. Poultry scavenged for food on the floor, bed, in the food pot and around the place where food was cooked. Poultry drank from and bathed in the same body of water that villagers used for bathing and washing utensils and clothes. Conclusion: Although raising poultry provides essential support to the families' livelihoods, it exposes them to the risk of avian influenza through close contact with their poultry. Simple warnings to avoid poultry contact are unlikely to change practices that are essential to household survival. Interventions that help to protect poultry flocks and improve household profitability are more likely to be practiced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1927
JournalRural and remote health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Avian influenza
  • Backyard raisers
  • Bangladesh
  • H5N1
  • Pandemic influenza
  • Poultry
  • Qualitative research
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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