Monday, May 5, 2008

Fighting Global Poverty on YouTube

Global poverty is an issue that seems to have only one side: it's bad, and we should end it. According to one statistic, the GDP of the 48 poorest nations is still less than the wealth of the three richest people…and most economists agree the gap between the rich and poor grows wider every year. Though the problem is vast, it often feels far away for many Americans. Moreover, global poverty is rarely an issue that drives voters to the polls.

In the face of these challenges, more and more groups and everyday citizens have taken to YouTube to advocate for an end to global poverty, raising awareness for an issue that doesn't get a lot of mainstream media coverage. One of them is Shawn Ahmed. Deciding to take some time off from his graduate studies at Notre Dame, Ahmed moved to Bangladesh, where he's been making videos for the last several months in an effort to give the statistics we often hear about global poverty a human face. His YouTube channel, UnCultured Project, provides a window into these efforts and documents the challenges, frustrations, and triumphs of one person's attempts to help end extreme poverty.

This video from GlobalDevMatters makes the case that U.S. farm subsidies, which mainly benefit large agri-businesses, negatively impact poor farmers around the world. In this clip from IRTAGMedia, Sri Lanka's Central Bank Governor talks about the potential consequences of rising food prices and what world leaders must do to address them.

And even Nobel laureates have used YouTube to spread their message. One of the leading voices in the campaign against global poverty is Muhammad Yunnis, founder of the Grameen Bank and the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Yunnis is credited with developing the practice of "micro-lending," an innovative form of loan allocation that has transformed the lives of millions of enterprising individuals in some of the world's poorest countries. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently met with Yunnis to discuss efforts to combat poverty and create micro-lending programs in Africa -– and posted the video to his YouTube channel.

And of course, you can't talk about global poverty advocacy without mentioning The ONE Campaign, which was one of the first organizations to bring attention to the issue on YouTube. Their videos aim to show that the fight against poverty isn't about politics — it's a problem that should concern us all. Their efforts seem to be working: with the help of a celebrity-ridden cast, ONE got every major presidential candidate to make a video for their YouTube channel, committing to making global poverty history.


[originally posted on the YouTube blog 5/5/2008]


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