Wednesday 10 October 2012

New ad campaign as food price shock looms

Water is Life has released a new fundraising video that does two things really well - first it powerfully makes the case for supporting the world's poorest by contrasting the scale of problems faced by them to those in the developed world, and secondly it manages to do this without robbing these people of their human dignity as certain other NGO fundraising campaigns do all too often.

No pictures of large eyed children and poor people looking up at the camera with food bowls here, simply people who are living in Haiti and therefore affected by both extreme poverty and the aftermath of a natural disaster making their point in a way that is striking and hard to ignore. These are also people who were right royally let down by the international response to their plight in 2010.  So the utter disdain of the woman that echoes the complaint about blocked wifi, turning her head as she does so, for me says it all.

A lesson worth learning in here for global civil society, then, as they seek to raise funds and make the case for what they do. It reminds me of a phrase the disability movement in the UK use: "nothing about us without us", which might be a useful rule of thumb for the PR departments of international NGOs.

And all this comes as ominious warnings have started to surface about a looming food price spike which is likely to affect those with least ability to manage the consequences. CNBC has reported that the recent downward trend in food prices is set to end, possibly in Asia first, and due in large part to volatile changes in climate affecting yields of staple crops, rice being the obvious one.

But the problem won't all be down to climate change, a bigger part of the picture is the use of formerly agricultural land to produce bio-fuels, driven in large part by the European Union and United States. The Guardian reported last month that we have the extraordinary position of the EU contributing to global instability by pursuing targets that are supposed to reduce global instability by targetting carbon emissions - and being warned to stop by the Chief Executive of a major corporation, as opposed to, say, a green NGO.

Which all makes the need to get some coherent action around the sustainable development agenda arising out of the Rio+20 conference ever more pressing. If we don't see that, then those people back in Haiti are going to have an awful lot more to worry about than their wifi connection. 

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