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Women of Laos fighting bird flu

For more than a decade, women from the hilly northern part of Laos, have been encouraged to go into poultry breeding as a way of earning a living in Southeast Asia's poorest nation.

Abdulai KaiKai, project officer at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Laos, said in an interview from Vientiane. "The income from the sale of eggs and chicken helps supplement the family income." This initiative came up against a daunting challenge with the onset of the deadly bird-flu virus in many parts of Southeast Asia in recent months.
To counter this, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is again turning to women as the best defenders of their communities. Manoshi Mitra, senior social development specialist at the ADB said, "Giving women the knowledge and tools to stop the spread of avian influenza is absolutely imperative. They will be taught how to identify the disease and equipped with first-aid kits, too."
The project, which gets under way in February, is geared to help poverty-stricken ethnic-minority families that are already disadvantaged because they speak a language that is different from the Lao used by the majority. An estimated 17,000 households in 400 villages are expected to gain from this initiative.
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