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According to the United Nations (UN), the poverty line is about $700 per year, and some 41% of people across the sub-Saharan Africa live below that line; a life of extreme poverty. Well, the billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates is not chickening away from tackling this problem and has a chicken plan that will see the affected making at least $1,000 per year.

Bill Gates has launched a poverty eradication project in New York that will see him donate 100,000 chickens to families living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. Gates believes that raising chickens for commercial use promises a sure way to earn peasant families enough income to see them rise above the poverty line.

The project aims at helping 30% of rural families living in sub-Sahara Africa keep a breed of vaccinated chickens, up from 5% that currently stock them. On the project’s site Gates make the case for his chicken program in the following ways:

 They are easy and inexpensive to take care of: Many breeds can eat whatever they find on the ground (although it’s better if you can feed them, because they’ll grow faster). Finally, chickens need a few vaccines. The one that prevents the deadly Newcastle disease cost less than 20 cents.

 They’re a good investments: Suppose a new farmer starts with five hens. One of her neighbors owns a rooster to fertilize the hens’ eggs. After three months, she can have a flock of 40 chicks. Eventually, with a sale price of $5 per chicken, which is typical in West Africa; she can earn more than $1,000 a year, versus the extreme-poverty line of about $700 a year.

 They help keep children healthy: Malnutrition kills more than 3.1 million children a year. Although eating more eggs – which are rich in protein and other nutrients – can help fight malnutrition, many farmers with small flocks find that it’s more economical to let the eggs hatch, sell the chicks, and use the money to buy nutritious food.

 They empower women: 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.

For more on how Bill Gates plans to help the low-income families across the sub-Saharan Africa, go to Melinda’s blog post for more information.

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