Vaccine HesitancyAfrican governments have struggled to vaccinate their populations, which has become more imperative with recent surges of COVID-19 in the continent and more variants arising as time passes by. As of September 2021, less than 4% of Africa’s population is completely vaccinated. This strongly contrasts the rate of the United States, equating to about 54% and at least 20% of populations on every other continent. There are two main factors contributing to Africa’s extremely low vaccination rate: vaccine hesitancy and inadequate supply.

Inadequate Supply

Low-income countries around the world have struggled to obtain a sufficient supply of the COVID-19 vaccine while wealthy countries acquired much of what was available. This lack of vaccines is apparent in Africa, home to some of the most impoverished countries in the world. Wealthy countries obtained COVID-19 vaccines because they “cut deals directly with vaccine-makers, securing a disproportionately large share of early supply and undermining a fledgling COVAX.”

In contrast to the actions of wealthy countries, COVAX wanted to distribute the vaccine supply to all countries engaged in the initiative. Countries in Africa are especially dependent on COVAX as most African governments cannot afford to buy vaccines. For example, Burundi, with “the highest poverty rate in Africa at 80%” needs aid from COVAX to obtain various vaccines. These countries rely on Gavi, the global Vaccine Alliance behind COVAX to obtain vaccines not only for COVID-19 but for various other illnesses as well. So far, COVAX has delivered more than 31 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to countries in Africa and plans to supply 520 million doses by the end of 2021. While Africa is receiving more vaccines through COVAX, vaccine hesitancy in Africa presents another barrier to vaccination.

Vaccine Hesitancy

The ONE Campaign, UNICEF and the African Union have partnered to create a TikTok initiative to tackle vaccine hesitancy in Africa by addressing concerns and misinformation about the vaccine. During a COVID-19 surge in May 2021 in Africa, “a survey conducted by Geopoll” indicated that a mere 48% of people in Africa would take the vaccine if it was accessible. This statistic decreased from 62% in November 2020, which “further illustrates the impact of continued negative information about the vaccine.”

The TikTok campaign helps correct social media misinformation about COVID-19, addresses people’s concerns and promotes the vaccine under the hashtag #MythOrVax. The campaign will have two phases. The first phase involves a public quiz on TikTok that tests users’ preexisting knowledge of COVID-19 and the vaccine. The second phase of the campaign starts on September 4, 2021, involves the organizations bringing African celebrities and health experts to discuss people’s concerns about the vaccine and the importance of getting the vaccine. While the slow vaccine rollout in Africa is a result of limited supply due to wealthy countries obtaining masses of vaccines, there is still low vaccine confidence in Africa, which the campaign aims to resolve.

Looking Ahead

The vaccine rollout in Africa is lagging but major international organizations and governments are committing to securing more vaccines for people in Africa in the coming months heading into next year. However, vaccine confidence must grow in order for Africa’s vaccination rate to improve, which should ultimately help to reduce the growing number of infections on the continent. With the TikTok campaign to reduce vaccine hesitancy in Africa, Africa can successfully improve its low vaccination rate.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in Nigeria's Tech IndustryEvery day the world becomes more dependent on computers. In the modern era, impoverished communities often lack access to technology. Therefore, technology is inaccessible in many developing countries. However, Nigeria finds itself in a unique position; the country’s ICT (information and communication technologies) sector has grown significantly since the early 2000s. In fact, Nigeria hosts “Africa’s biggest technology market and accounts for 23% of internet users in Africa with 122 million people online in December 2018.” Unfortunately, there is gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry as is the case in many other countries around the globe.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin

Nigeria’s technology industry has brought much wealth to the country. But, it is important to consider the demographics of this innovative sector. According to the Women’s Technology Empowerment Center, Nigeria has a sizable gender gap. The technology sector, in particular, does not employ many women. In fact, “According to the National Bureau of Statistics, women make up on average just 22% of the total number of engineering and technology university graduates each year.” Similarly, a fifth of the people working in the information and technology sector are women. Thankfully, some women, including Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, have taken it upon themselves to solve gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin leads the fight to close the gender gap in Nigeria’s technology sector. Ajayi-Akinfolarin was born in Akure, Nigeria. She attended the Nigerian School of Information Technology and the University of Lagos, where she received her bachelor of science degree in business administration. Ajayi-Akinfolarin began her professional career as an intern for E.D.P. Audit and Security Associates where she eventually became an associate consultant. During her time there, Ajayi-Akinfolarin became aware of the major gender gap in the information and technology sector, which prompted Ajayi-Akinfolarin to refocus her career.

Pearls Africa

In 2012, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded Pearls Africa, an NGO that provides young women with the resources to pursue a career in STEM. For Ajayi-Akinfolarin, taking this step meant leaving a comfortable career. However, she believes fighting for her community is more important; “We want girls to be creators of tech, not mere users. Watching them write code is beautiful. Many of them never touched a computer before they got here. It’s mind-blowing. The joy on their faces, that’s more than money.”

While Pearls Africa is intended for women pursuing STEM, its overarching goal is to improve lives by reducing poverty. Along with teaching STEM, Pearls Africa teaches women about “ethics, leadership skills, self-empowerment/development, confidence, public speaking and self-esteem, which leads to economic independence.”

Pearls Africa deserves praise not for its goals, mission or philosophy but for its achievements. Since 2012, “the organization has trained [more than] 400 young women [on how to] code.” It offers eight additional programs that provide different services as well. Some of these programs focus on women’s empowerment and developing leadership skills in young women. Meanwhile, other programs offer aid. For example, Pearls Africa’s medical outreach program provides free health care assistance in Lagos, Nigeria.


Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin recognizes that technology is here to stay. Her foundation’s work to empower young women with tech access and skills is beyond remarkable. Unsurprisingly, Ajayi-Akinfolarin has received multiple awards in recognition of her work. In 2018, she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the ONE Campaign and “she was named one of the 10 CNN Heroes of The Year.” Organizations like Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s must receive support in the fight to bring opportunities to impoverished communities. Hopefully, Ajayi-Akinfolarin will continue to see success and inspire women to fight gender inequality in Nigeria’s tech industry as well as the global industry.

Ana Paola Asturias
Photo: Flickr

U2’s Charity Work
Throughout its career, the band U2 has played for tens of thousands of people and gained millions of fans worldwide. The band’s influence, however, has gone beyond its music, as it has impacted millions of people with its charity work. Various members have done both individual charity work as well as work through the band. The band members’ collaborative efforts include poverty relief, disaster relief and health and human rights work. This article will highlight a few important instances of U2’s charity work.

Bono’s Work With ONE & RED

ONE is a campaign that Bono, U2’s lead singer and other activists co-founded. The campaign’s aim is to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases. In order to achieve this goal, Bono has personally met with heads of state and lobbied governments to pass legislation. Grassroots efforts and ONE’s lobbying for legislation have saved millions of lives over the last 10 years through newly funded government policies. Bono also co-founded RED, an organization that raises awareness and funds to help fight the AIDS crisis. RED has raised $600 million to date, which primarily goes toward AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa.

Disaster Relief Concerts

Throughout U2’s existence, it has played numerous concerts and events to raise money for various disaster relief benefits. In 1984, Bono and U2 bassist Adam Clayton performed at Band Aid, and in 1985, U2 performed at Live Aid. Both events raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The next year, in 1986, the band participated in A Conspiracy of Hope tour on behalf of Amnesty International, an organization that focuses on protecting human rights around the world. That same year, it also performed for Self Aid, which helped the homeless in Ireland. On the 20th anniversary of Live Aid, U2 played the Live 8 concert in London. This concert supported the Make Poverty History campaign.

Other Assorted Charity Work

Beyond Bono’s work with ONE and RED and the band’s charity concerts, U2 has participated in other charitable work. For instance, Bono teamed up with Muhammad Ali in 2000 for Jubilee 2000, which called for the cancelation of third world debt. Bono also founded the organization DATA, which aims to improve the political, financial and social state of those living in Africa. Bono has visited Africa on numerous occasions in an attempt to raise funds and awareness for AIDS relief. Additionally, the band donated all of the proceeds from the release of its song “Sweetest Thing” to Chernobyl Children International, which works to give those the 1986 Cherynobl accident affected medical and economic help. Most recently, U2 donated €10 million for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers on the frontline fighting COVID-19.

U2 has impacted millions of people around the world, not just with its music, but with its charity as well. U2’s charity work has helped millions of people around the world. In particular, Bono’s work with ONE and RED has helped fight against poverty and the AIDS epidemic. The band has also worked together, using its music directly by playing a variety of concerts to raise money for important causes. Even as the world grapples with the devastating effects of COVID-19, U2 has continued providing people in need with generous humanitarian aid.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

ONE Campaign
In 2004, Bono and Bobby Shriver co-founded the ONE campaign. It is an international non-partisan campaign that believes the fight against poverty is not about charity but bringing justice and equality. ONE aims to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030.

What ONE Is

ONE pressures governments, either through grassroots campaigns or lobbying with political leaders, to do more to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases. The campaign is not government-funded, and is financed entirely by individual philanthropists and corporate partners.

The ONE campaign is made up of several celebrities and world leaders. U2- lead singer Bono and activist Bobby Shriver continue bringing in other leaders to aid in their efforts. The team, which includes former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, works worldwide to fight extreme poverty. Volunteers make up the backbone of the ONE campaign. These volunteers mobilize education and advocacy efforts for people facing global poverty. Anyone can be a volunteer; artists, activists, students, leaders and celebs, including Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Liam Neeson and Jewel, are all working together to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030.

Who ONE Helps

The ONE campaign aims to end extreme poverty mainly in Africa’s Sub-Saharan region where 51 percent of the world’s poorest live. The campaign fights for several issues including no poverty, zero hunger and gender equality.

To address zero poverty, ONE campaign leaders propose:

  1. Ensuring all students in low-income countries have basic reading skills. This could cut extreme poverty by 12%.
  2. Increasing the amount spent on key health interventions for women and children. The proposed amount is $5 per person per year to 2035 in 74 developing countries. This could yield 9 times the return on investment in economic and social benefits.
  3. Ending hunger. The percentage of undernourished people dropped from 19 percent in 1990 to 11 percent in 2014. The campaign aims to reduce it from 11 to zero percent by the year 2030 through lobbying and campaigning with governments to provide the necessary programs and resources to nations facing extreme poverty. A key element of ending hunger includes closing the gender gap in resource access. Global hunger numbers could be reduced by 100-150 million people if female farmers had equal access to agricultural resources such as fertilizers.
  4. Fostering gender equality. “In general, women spend 19% of their time in unpaid activities (including housework, child and elder care) versus just 8% for men. Unpaid care work limits women and girls’ ability to complete their education, learn valuable skills and pursue income-generating opportunities.” By addressing this issue and closing the gender gap “developing countries could yield between $112 and $152 million every year and boost global GDP by up to $28 trillion by 2025.” (These projections made pre-COVID-19 pandemic). In addition, girls receiving a primary education may decrease maternal mortality by 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How ONE Helps

The ONE campaign took more than 23 million actions towards alleviating global poverty. ONE championed 35 policy changes, with more than 128,000 supporters mobilized in Abuja, Berlin, Brussels, Dakar, Johannesburg, London, New York, Ottawa, Paris and Washington DC educating and lobbying governments.

“In Europe, ONE has been a key part of several victories shoring up support for development. In March 2013, the UK became the first G8 country to reach the 43-year-old 0.7 percent target for international aid as a share of national income, which meets the commitment made by the coalition government after the general election of May 2010.”

Also, the ONE campaign played a large role in lobbying for a provision of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) to pass. The provision “increases mutually beneficial trade ties between the U.S. and Africa and promises to lift people out of poverty and into employment and prosperity.” It passed the U.S. House and Senate in 2012

Since starting the campaign in 2014, Bono and Bobby Shriver have been working to bring in leaders and volunteers to join them in the fight against poverty. By mobilizing volunteers to educate and lobby governments, the ONE campaign has been able to influence a number of policy changes. These successes continue bringing the ONE campaign closer to its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

– Danielle Beatty
Photo: Flickr

How an Individual's Impact on Poverty Reduction Can Make a Difference
The Borgen Project was started with one person who wanted to make a difference. Clint Borgen started his endeavor to create The Borgen Project after seeing the poverty and conflict during the genocide in Kosovo. When he returned, he moved to Alaska to join a fishing expedition in order to make money to start his organization. The Borgen Project started with one person’s bold ideas and passionate heart setting to eradicate global poverty. There are many other ambitious individuals, like Clint Borgen, that have started organizations focusing on reducing poverty. The following organizations show how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction can generate a movement leading to organizations that work toward a world with less poverty.

  1. ONE is an international organization that focuses on action and campaigning to end extreme poverty and prevent diseases. The co-founders for ONE are Bono, the lead singer of U2 and Bobby Shriver, son of the founder of The Peace Corps. These two passionate men came together to start ONE, an international campaign and advocacy organization of more than nine million people around the world. This organization prioritizes social justice and equality in the world. ONE utilizes its advocacy power to encourage government programs to make lives better around the world. It is funded almost entirely through foundations and corporations.
  2. Concern Worldwide has focused on working with the world’s most vulnerable people for 50 years. This organization was founded by John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy in response to the famine that occurred when the province of Biafra tried to secede from Nigeria. In 1968, this organization, then called Africa Concern, focused in Africa sending supplies to the people affected in Biafra. In 1970, Africa Concern turned into Concern Worldwide with volunteers encouraged to respond to natural disasters causing poverty in other communities as well. Today, Concern Worldwide focuses on emergencies, health, nutrition, education and livelihoods to reduce poverty. This organization operates on donations and utilizes 90 percent of its funds for relief and development.
  3. Trickle Up envisions a world where no one lives in extreme poverty or vulnerability. In 1979, Mildred Robbins Leet founded this organization with the goal to help people out of poverty. The group’s work aims to help women, people with disabilities, refugees and other economically and socially excluded people. Its goal is to continue lifting millions of people out of extreme poverty and to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Instead of giving individuals money, Trickle Up provides people with seed capital grants, skills training and the support to create small businesses in order to help individuals reach economic self-sufficiency. Trickle Up’s approach starts with stabilizing one’s family, planning and building a livelihood, connecting and saving in groups, investing and growing businesses and finding an individual voice to advocate when people need to speak up in their communities. This organization tracks its individual impact on poverty reduction by focusing on the changes people experience in their quality of life. They keep track of data on how the organization helps others combat hunger, build livelihoods, gain access to savings and credit and empower individuals for social involvement.

These organizations, founded by only one or two people, represent how an individual’s impact on poverty reduction by ordinary people can generate change in the world. Clint Borgen, Bono, Bobby Shriver, John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy and Mildred Robbins Leet exemplify the possibility of how one person can make a huge impact. These individuals are a testament to grassroots movements and why each person should feel empowered to make a difference.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Music and Poverty
Robert Browning once said, “Who hears music, feels his solitude peopled at once.” For those living in poverty around the world, being surrounded by others in the same predicament often manifests in a collective loneliness. While the cadence of the day-to-day drones on, music’s tempo sets the pulse of nations. Music and poverty may dance in the shadows at times, but their connection lives beyond subtleties — it is a real and often necessary connection.

Medicine for the Soul

Just how powerful is music? According to eMedExpert, an online informational Web site dedicated to health and medicine, music can:

  • Boost immunity to disease
  • Benefit emotional intelligence, and turn negative thoughts to positive
  • Create stronger literacy skills
  • Increase productivity

The Fajara Cancer Centre in Nairobi, Kenya bears witness to the healing power of music. When Berklee College of Music graduate Cara Smith did research in East Africa for her degree in music therapy, cancer patient Aisha hadn’t spoken all week while undergoing treatments. The two sat down together and wrote a song, creating an avenue for Aisha to express herself despite the verbal challenges from personal trauma.

Inspired, Smith went on to create Umoja Community Music Therapy which now operates in more than 50 schools, hospitals and community centers in Uganda and Kenya.

Smith, along with fellow graduates Brooke Hatfield and Kristina Casale, have also seen former child soldiers climb out of depression and trauma to find joy, and young women become empowered through music. Smith points out the connection of music to East African culture and sees it as an open door ready to be pushed.

“El Sistema”

Passing away earlier this year, Jose Antonio Abreu left a legacy of the profound impact of music. As founder of a music program for Venezuelan children, Abreu understood the relationship between music and poverty. His program, known widely as “El Sistema” (the system), trained musicians across all social classes.

According to Abreu, the system fought poverty at its roots. He explained to 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon, “A child’s physical poverty is overcome by the spiritual richness that comes from music.”

El Sistema helped to create other musical movements in developing countries, such as those implemented by Children International (CI), an organization devoted to breaking the cycle of poverty on the world stage. With programs in the Dominican Republic since 2014 and Columbia since 2015, CI sees first-hand how the method puts an emphasis on peer-to-peer instruction, cultivating leadership and selflessness, and  keeps youth away from gangs and other destructive environments at the same time.

Then, there are the nonquantifiable effects of music. Juan David, a participant in the Columbian program, says “when I’m playing, I feel very peaceful and calm, because I leave my world behind.”

Power and Purpose

While a temporary escape from reality might be welcome, song may wield the power to affect real change in health and development outcomes through their musical passions. Case studies in Africa have shown the utility of songs in networking, fundraising and advocacy.

In 2008, U2’s lead singer and humanitarian, Bono, led his One Campaign, which united over 100 international artists, and put major pressure on G8 summit leaders to create change. More recently, in 2014, One’s Do Agric Campaign sent a message to African leaders to invest in agriculture.

The cornerstone song for that campaign, Cocoa na Chocolate, plainly stated: “like the seeds of light forever, let the Earth provide for her children.” The track, one of the biggest collaborations in Africa’s history, inspired a nation to take initiative and provide for itself.

Music, Poverty and Change

In Africa, songs have been written for political mobilization, as a tool for therapy, as a cry against social injustices and as a show of cultural solidarity.

Music and poverty seem to provide limited evidence of a direct cause/effect correlation (i.e., music decreasing levels of poverty), but music’s inherent emotional value strikes a subliminal chord almost universally. With iconic international musicians like U2 writing charity songs that encourage action, music disseminates information and raises awareness, while encouraging those in poverty that they are not alone.

In every song, there are notes of struggle, relatable and comforting; there are notes of dignity, reminding of a need for hope; there are notes of resistance, pressing people to find relief from stress and the motivation to change their condition.

-Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Africa Is Key to the Future of the ContinentA recent report published by the ONE Campaign entitled ‘The African Century‘ shows the urgent necessity of the international community to pay attention to development on the African continent. With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, the authors of the report have stated that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to future of the continent and of the globe.

Although population growth is rapid and expansive on the continent, the flow of international aid into Africa has been stagnating and decreasing in recent years. Since 2012, the three most significant forms of financing for African countries—official development assistance, domestic revenue and direct foreign investment—have been steadily decreasing; they are now at their lowest aggregate level since 2009. Since 2012, although its population has increased by 15 percent, the combined resources available for development in Africa have nominally decreased by 22 percent.

The authors of the report emphatically underline that the international community must start taking action on poverty in Africa as soon as possible. Alleviating poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent, one which is uncertain right now and might present very serious challenges. With the population increasing to an estimated 2.5b billion by 2050, and 50 percent of them being 25 years or younger, there is a great risk of further destabilization of the region and massive waves of migration. According to estimates, by 2020 Africa’s unemployed population will equal that of Germany’s entire population, and 50 years from now that number might increase to 310 million, or half the employed population of continental Europe.

Donors who used to largely finance aid and development on the continent have been largely using aid budgets in the pursuit of short-term foreign policy interests rather than in fighting poverty. This shortsightedness might prove catastrophic. As a young population grows up in conditions of extreme poverty, conflict that resonates around the globe might be unavoidable. This is why the authors of the ONE report so emphatically claim that taking action on poverty in Africa is key to the future of the continent and the world. In its conclusion, the report calls for a renewed partnership with African countries, which include the doubling of investments in education, employment and empowerment “to support a programme of economic and policy reform across the continent”. Hopefully, the international community will heed this call and think in the long term in order to avoid catastrophe before it manifests.

Alan Garcia-Ramos

Photo: Flickr

Canada and its Strong Stance on Sexism in Poverty
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently condemned sexism in poverty in response to a letter by the ONE Campaign. The open letter was released by Bono and the ONE Campaign on International Women’s Day in March. It was signed by some of the most influential women in the world, including Charlize Theron, Cheryl Sandberg and Angelique Kidjo.

Trudeau is the first world leader to formally respond, addressing the campaign thus: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist. Women and girls are less likely to get an education, more likely to be impoverished, and face a greater risk of disease and poor health.”

According to Melinda Gates, one reason poverty is sexist is time. It takes time to finish an education, learn a new life skill or start a business. Men in developing countries are more likely to have access to this time because women are responsible for the vast majority of unpaid housework. There are also more tangible barriers restricting women’s ability to work, whether in the form of laws barring women’s employment or a lack of access to child care for working mothers.

Trudeau had the opportunity to lead by example when Canada hosted the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund in Montréal on Sept. 16. The conference brought global health leaders together to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. According to Trudeau, such collaboration is an important step to ending sexism in poverty because young women account for 74 percent of all HIV infections among adolescents in Africa.

Canada has increased its contribution to the Global Fund by 20 percent to $785 million CDN, all of which will go toward providing mosquito nets, medication and therapy. The Global Fund aims to save millions of lives and prevent hundreds of millions of new infections by 2019.

According to the ONE Campaign, nowhere in the world do women have the same opportunities as men do, a fact due in part to the sexism inherent in poverty. Trudeau’s response is one of many steps needed to rectify this major inequality.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Celebrity Advocates in the Fight Against Poverty
Celebrities, whether they earn their status through talent, wealth or other characteristics, have many opportunities to use their power for the greater good. The following five celebrities frequently impress with both their commitment to and passion for serving the world’s poor in the fight against poverty.

  1. Bono: No list of superstar advocates, activists and charity workers is complete without his name. The U2 frontman has worked diligently for years to reduce global poverty as well as educate the public on the subject. In a 2013 TedTalk, Bono identified himself as an “evidence-based activist” or “factivist.” His advocacy work is well known and has earned him three Nobel Peace Prize nominations as well as a spot on Forbes’ Most Generous list. In addition, his wide-reaching impact has helped in the creation of charity endeavors such as the ONE Campaign and the RED Global Fund Campaign.
  2. Brad Pitt: He is a big name in both Hollywood as well as the world of celebrity advocates. Pitt joined Bono in 2004 when he teamed up with the ONE Campaign. He acted as a spokesperson, pushing for an additional one percent of the U.S. budget to go toward poverty alleviation in Africa. In a 2005 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Pitt spoke with passion about the poverty and disease he saw while traveling: “I feel it is our responsibility to make those [life-saving medicines] available.”
  3. Angelina Jolie: Known primarily for her outstanding performances in films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Tourist, her generosity may outweigh even her acting talent. Jolie has donated millions of dollars, through the Jolie-Pitt foundation, to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders that help the world’s poorest people. She was recognized and named as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and was the recipient of the U.N. Citizen of the World award in 2003. Together, she and Pitt have been incredibly influential voices in the fight against global poverty.
  4. Annie Lennox: This talented singer-songwriter has long been using her talents to contribute to her causes. She released her single, Sing, in 2007, raising funds for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). She has been appointed a UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for her incredible commitment to the cause and is a firm supporter of numerous charities including the TAC and Mothers2Mothers.
  5. George Clooney: He is well known among celebrity advocates for famously founding Not On Our Watch, an organization that deals with human rights violations in the global community. In addition, the star is a supporter of the ONE Campaign and has done much work in the area of poverty alleviation and advocacy.

While celebrity news often seems irrelevant to serious matters such as the fight against poverty, many celebrities use their position as a public figure to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable populations.

These five celebrities have set an example for the ways in which other influential members of society can use their talents, fame or funds to contribute to their global community.

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

Yaya Touré, who plays midfielder for the UK club football team Manchester City, is used to scoring goals on the pitch. Now he is instead talking about scoring big goals for humanity by working to end extreme poverty.

Touré, who has partnered with the One Campaign, an international non-profit agency which works to fight extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa, recently stated in a self-written article regarding development efforts in Africa, “If we work together and play by the rules, humanity can score the great global goals of ending hunger and extreme poverty and building sustainable communities. “

He has also expressed his hopes that Africa can one day become, “The young, dynamic and driving continent it should be, no longer relegated to the subs bench – and help make a better world for us all,” and that he believes, “There has never been more to play for.”

Tourè, who is a citizen of the Ivory Coast and was raised in this sub-Saharan nation, recalls how he channeled all of his energy into education and sport as a young child. His knowledge and personal experiences within a developing region has provided him with a unique perspective about which methods of development will prove most effective within Africa.

He argues that for example, governments within Africa must give women who are smallholder farmers the ability to receive bank loans and property rights. This advancement would not only further promote gender equality, but would also help over 100 million people out of extreme poverty and hunger. Touré also believes that both boys and girls must have equal access to primary and secondary education facilities, which must provide opportunities to learn numeracy, literacy, and IT skills.

With 70% of African workers earning a living from agricultural practices, he argues that the governments of Africa must invest within the agriculture industry in order to both produce larger quantities of food resources and encourage sustainable practices. Touré, who also serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environmental Protection Agency, has joined many other African celebrities in calling upon African leaders and the international community to invest more resources across the continent to smallholder farmers.

He explains in his article that a youth football team requires potential and resources; even if you have the best talent available, they will not develop without the necessary support, training, and resources. Touré compares this situation to the youth of Africa; there is a capacity to build a team with unlimited capacity. He wishes, “For all the young men and women of Africa to have a decent chance of meeting their potential in life. But, for them to be the engine of global progress, they themselves need fuel: for their stomachs, and for their minds.

Touré argues that the rapid growth of Africa’s population, which is estimated to reach two billion people by 2040, must be met with strong efforts by the international community to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty. He has expressed his faith in the potential of the youth of Africa, and believes that, “Unleashed and supported in the right way, these young people could act like rocket fuel to turbocharge African and global prosperity.

James Thornton

Sources: The Guardian, Malawi Nyasa Times, Think Eat Save
Photo: Flickr