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Bill Gates Plans to Donate 100K Chickens to People in Poverty. Here’s Why That’s a Bad Idea…

Bill Gates recently made headlines when he announced an initiative to donate 100,000 chickens to impoverished nations. A new TIME article reports that Bolivia, one of the designated recipients, is offended by the offer.

“He does not know Bolivia’s reality to think we are living 500 years ago, in the middle of the jungle not knowing how to produce, said Bolivia’s minister of land and rural development.

In short: Gates is out of touch.

Animal gifting, especially around the holidays, has become a popular way to help people in extreme poverty. Groups like Heifer International and Oxfam are well-known for their programs distributing various farmed animals to poor communities worldwide.

Unfortunately, animal gifting is incredibly misguided and often out of touch with the realities faced by impoverished families. It has far-reaching negative impacts not only on the animals who are treated as commodities, but also on the very people it aims to help.

Here are a few things to consider:

Giving an animal to a family in need can be a real burden. As many people experiencing poverty are already struggling to feed themselves, it seems counterintuitive to give them yet another mouth to feed.

The animals may be neglected because their caretakers are too busy working to get by or don’t have the knowledge or resources needed to care for animals—for example, they may be unable to pay for veterinary care.

Farmed animals require vast amounts of water. In fact, every pound of chicken requires a reported 519 gallons of water! Many poor communities are located in areas where scarcity is a serious concern.

If Bill Gates is serious about helping communities facing poverty, he should look to the many organizations employing a variety of effective methods, including the direct transfer of funds to families.

By leaving meat and other animal products off our plates, we can remove our support from a system that wastes resources and treats animals as objects to be given as gifts.

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