It’s true. For a mere five dollars a month, you can send a child to school in some of the poorest countries in the world. “Children get something to eat and school gets them educated,” says Bettina Luescher, Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP). Leuscher was addressing the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) international conference in Washington, D.C. last week.
I met Luescher after her keynote address and specifically asked her why emerging economies in Asia are not raising enough money to alleviate poverty and other social issues. She said a recent U.N. meeting addressed exactly that and wants to engage the philanthropic wealth in emerging economies. While there is wealth among certain sections of society in India for example, the country lacks a formal philanthropic culture similar to Western societies.
I also asked her about the pathetic response from the global community to the floods in Pakistan and she said there was no clear answer. Private sector response to the floods in Pakistan was very poor and relationships within Pakistan and its boundaries made it more complicated.
Despite economic advances, almost one billion people are going hungry today. Hunger, according to Luescher kills more people than AIDS, malaria and other diseases. For instance, in Afghanistan the average life expectancy is 44 years and the UNWFP has been providing incentives to women like an extra ration of cooking oil to feed their families. UNWFP has had its successes in getting countries out of hunger and a specific example is Cape Verde in Africa where they do not need the help of the aid organization anymore.