ONE Launches Provocative PSA to Fight Famine in Horn of Africa

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ONE Launches Provocative PSA to Fight Famine in Horn of Africa

PSA Part of Broad Global Campaign to Raise Awareness, Press World Leaders to Act

WASHINGTON - The anti-poverty advocacy group ONE today unveiled a new PSA titled "The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity" to spark a more urgent response to the growing famine in Somalia that has already killed more than 30,000 children in just 3 months. Featuring some of the biggest names from the worlds of entertainment, media and politics, the PSA is an effort to turn the media spotlight on the obscenity of tens of thousands of children dying of starvation in 2011. It is also part of a broader campaign by ONE to build support for longer-term strategies that will help end the cycle of famine once and for all. 

The PSA will launch across leading digital platforms and broadcast networks, including AOL, MTV, Huffington Post, Facebook, Discovery, SpikeTV and YouTube. In addition to the U.S. spots, localized versions are debuting in the U.K., France and Germany. The :60 PSA is available at www.one.org. Viewers are encouraged to learn more about the crisis and what they can do to help, from signing ONE's petition to supporting partner organizations who are working on the ground to deliver assistance.

"The F Word: Famine is the Real Obscenity" brings together a broad spectrum of well-known leaders in entertainment, media and politics, including ONE's co-founder and U2 lead singer Bono, Somali-born singer and poet K'naan, FOX news host and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Arianna Huffington, Jenna and Barbara Bush, George Clooney, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Christy Turlington Burns, Kristin Davis, Idris Elba, Colin Farrell, Joe Jonas, Liya Kebede, Annie Lennox, Justin Long, Rob Lowe, Ewan McGregor and  Evan Rachel Wood. The spots were directed by filmmaker Jesse Dylan whose many films and videos include the Emmy Award-winning "Yes We Can" Barack Obama campaign video collaboration with will.i.am. 

The worst drought in 60 years has caused a severe food crisis that is threatening the livelihood of more than 12 million people in the broader Horn of Africa (United Nations OCHA). While the drought was not preventable, the famine is the result of a tragic combination of factors that are man-made, including abnormally high food prices, lack of governance and security in Somalia, and a historic lack of investment in long-term agricultural development in the Horn.

"More than 30,000 children have died in just 3 months. Mothers are forced to decide who to feed and who to let die. In 2011? That's obscene. This is complicated, no-one's pretending it's easy - Somalia has been without a functioning government for 20 years - but droughts don't have to result in famine, just look at Ethiopia and Kenya who have preventative policies in place. There are things that can be done, and if we really believe the life of a child in East Africa is worth the same as the lives of our own children, we have to act," said Bono. 

Somali-born singer and poet K'naan added, "There are only two ways to handle a human devastation of this magnitude. One is to exercise our humanity by stretching the muscle that is empathy. And two is to let it sit, collect the cholesterol of indifference and let it die. And then it is easier to watch others waste away, for something treatable, and worse of all, something preventable."

Actress Kristin Davis, who visited the refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, with Oxfam in July commented, "The people I met had traveled for miles and miles, for weeks and weeks and lost family members and yet there wasn't room in the camp for them. It was at that moment, I realized there's been a wide gap of planning and help and care all coming together with this drought to create this terrible situation. And it's something that you just don't think is going to happen now. You think, we're beyond this, that we're better organized, that we're more caring as a world.  But something like this can still happen. And it's shocking."

The PSA is a part of a new global campaign by ONE, which is calling for the G8, G20, and African governments to:

  • Urgently fill the $650 million financing gap for emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa and ensure that all those in need are reached. In the case of Somalia, greater regional and international political will is required to support an inclusive multi-stakeholder process - including a prominent voice for Somali civil society - that conclusively addresses the underlying causes of insecurity.
  • To live up to their 2009 L'Aquila commitment to invest $22 billion in agriculture and for African governments to fulfil their Maputo pledge to spend 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.
  • Invest in longer-term agriculture and food security programs to stop the cycle of extreme hunger, such as the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative and The Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

The campaign will be driven by top-level political lobbying around the globe, collaboration with more than 50 leading African artists, musicians and businesspeople, grassroots organizing across the U.S., social media campaigning, cutting edge creative media products, and a petition to world leaders that seeks to recruit 500,000 signatories. For more information on ONE's campaign on famine and agriculture development go to www.one.org/actnow.

"More than 200,000 of our members have already added their voices to a global petition calling for world leaders to act now," said ONE president and CEO Michael Elliott. "ONE's members played an important role in persuading governments to make commitments on funding agriculture in 2009, and now those governments should keep their promises. Through our campaign we hope to educate the public that famines are preventable and investments in farming, just like vaccines, can save lives. If leaders live up to their promises to support farmers in Africa we can break the cycle of famine once and for all."

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ONE is a grassroots campaign and advocacy organization backed by more than 2 million people from around the world and every walk of life who are committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

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