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[WASHINGTON] Want to end extreme poverty? Technology hyper-billionaire Bill Gates says the answer is chickens. And that's not the name of new Microsoft software.
Mr Gates, the founder of the world's largest software company, says the best thing to improve the lives of the world's poorest is not computers or the Internet but raising a few roosters and hens.
"It's pretty clear to me that just about anyone who's living in extreme poverty is better off if they have chickens," he said this week on his website GatesNotes.com.
The world's richest person, who made his US$75 billion fortune pushing for a Microsoft computer in every home, said his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just partnered with the global development group Heifer International to donate some 100,000 chickens to families in sub-Saharan Africa living on less than US$2 a day.
The goal, he said, is to get 30 per cent of the rural families in the region to raise improved breeds of vaccinated chickens, compared with the current five per cent.
The return is better than other solutions, he said: Chickens cost little to take care of, they mulitiply fast and eggs and chicken meat can boost family nutrition.
They also empower women, he said.
"Because chickens are small and typically stay close to home, many cultures regard them as a woman's animal, in contrast to larger livestock like goats or cows. Women who sell chickens are likely to reinvest the profits in their families."