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New Year - Same Old Hunger and Poverty

by ask Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:08:42 PM EST

Go visit FreeRice!

(Cross-posted from Booman Tribune, but applies as much in Europe.)

A great thank you to Renee in Ohio who posted a link in this comment a few days ago. curly and I spent some time at the link Saturday morning and achieved a decent number of rice grains donated. Go have some fun! Challenge yourself to see which level you can reach. You may have a hard time leaving once you get started, but your new addiction is all for a good cause.

More below:

Today, I was back at the site (yes; bookmarked) and spent some time looking at the FAQ's, etc. - which led me to the Totals page.

Total Donations by Date
Date             Grains of Rice

OCTOBER 2007    537,163,380
NOVEMBER 2007    4,768,969,790
DECEMBER 2007    6,948,988,060

January 1, 2008    114,143,280
Total All Dates    12,369,264,510

FreeRice began on October 7, 2007.

Please head over and see if you can add a couple of thousand grains to the total.

But the Totals page also led me to another link with information that may be familiar to many of us, but presented very clearly.

International Aid ― A Solution

Quick Summary: Almost all of the deaths from hunger and disease that you see on this site can be stopped. The cost to do this is about $195 billion a year, according to the United Nations. Twenty-two developed countries below have pledged to work towards each giving 0.7% (a little less than 1%) of their national income in international aid, which would raise the $195 billion. Some countries are slow to meet their pledge.

2006 International Aid Donated    COUNTRY      Aid as % of income      How close to the
0.7% goal
Sweden     1.03     Already reached goal
Luxembourg     0.89     Already reached goal
Norway     0.89     Already reached goal
Netherlands     0.81     Already reached goal
Denmark     0.80     Already reached goal
Ireland     0.53     Scheduled for 2012
United Kingdom     0.52     Scheduled for 2013
Belgium     0.50     Scheduled for 2010
Austria     0.48     Scheduled for 2015
France     0.47     Scheduled for 2012
Switzerland     0.39     No schedule yet
Finland     0.39     Scheduled for 2010
Germany     0.36     Scheduled for 2014
Spain     0.32     Scheduled for 2012
Canada     0.30     No schedule yet
Australia     0.30     No schedule yet
New Zealand     0.27     No schedule yet
Japan     0.25     No schedule yet
Portugal     0.21     Scheduled for 2015
Italy     0.20     Scheduled for 2015
United States     0.17     No schedule yet
Greece     0.16     Scheduled for 2015

Now, that is disappointing! Only five of the 22 countries that pledged to grant a paltry 0.7% of GDP to combat poverty at the Monterrey Conference in 2002 - and reaffirmed it at the Johannesburg Summit later the same year have actually achieved the goal.

Some nations are lagging the objective by way too much; it is shameful to see that so many rich nations have not even achived 0.5% of GDP.

But we can all do something about that - FreeRice has an action page adapted for each of the 22 countries. Check the link and find a form letter.
Rather than sending a form letter to The White House (if you are in the US), you could adapt the letter and send it to your local congress critters.
There is probably no better way of 'spreading democracy' than to help people in abject poverty develop out of that situation. Nothing beats food security and (very) basic health services in promoting peace.

Go check it out!

Did you check it out?
. Nope - only grains, makes no difference! 0%
. Yes - I did my part! 33%
. Yes - got into it and had fun! 66%
. Yes - not stopping until I reach level 45, or better! 0%

Votes: 3
Results | Other Polls
Not sure you'll get much traction here - we've been through this some weeks ago. Of course it is worthy, and I am sure those who wished have already made their contributions. But the number of grains in a 20 kg sack of rice requires an awful lot of effort that might be better spent on another way of solving the problem.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 02:47:43 PM EST
Thanks, Sven!
I missed it then.
Happy New Year!
by ask on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 03:02:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Happy New Year! Let's get things changed...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 03:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly there are other things amiss as well. From an excellent investigation by ceebs:
I had a quick look... Something doesn't add up here...

First up, each question (after the first one) coughs up three adverts at the bottom of the page - click on any of the links, the operator of the web site gets paid for the "referral". If the click-through results in the user buying anything, the web site operator could get further fees up to a double-figure number of dollars.

And that assumes that there's no dodgy "click fraud" going on in the background every time you choose an answer.

The advertiser providing the links is listed on a lot of anti-spyware sites, for doing dodgy things with "tracking" cookies. SpySweeper doesn't like following their links, that's for sure - and that's generally a bad sign. This flies in the face of the site's Privacy Policy, which also expects YOU to opt-out of tracking by the individual advertisers.

Googling around suggests that a typical bulk sack of rice weighs about 50Kg, and you can expect around 2.5 million grains of rice in a 50Kg sack. That's right, all those ad impressions yesterday resulted in all of about twenty-five sacks (1.25 tonnes) of rice being donated. Or put another way, less than one typical truckload. That's a lot of clicks, for a tiny fraction of a typical aid convoy.

I'd hazard a guess that the cost of buying the rice is absolutely dwarfed by the ad revenue the site owner is pulling in, even after taking the site operating costs into account.

(EDIT: Those will be pretty hefty, given that they've made it to Digg, and lots of bloggers are talking about the site)

There's no indication of whether the site is operated by a registered charity, and the domains mentioned are registered to a PO Box in Indiana. John Breen was originally associated with The Hunger Site but that site has a pucker contact address - this new one doesn't. In fact, the ZIP code mentioned in the domain WHOIS record is only associated with PO Boxes.

In fact, the whole site is very short of contact details, other than an e-mail address to contact them about advertising. That's also a bad sign.

This could be legit, but the lack of info about revenue/donations, the rather terse privacy policy, the advertiser with the overly zealous tracking policy and general lack of contact details would make me very wary of the whole thing.

I'd really like to think this is for real, but I have some nagging doubts, and no easy way of getting answers without posing as an advertiser...

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 01:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just out of fairness, I'll link to their advice, but, to be honest, it does not really answer the discrepancy between the price of the rice being donated and the money flows on the website.

10 grains of rice per question is just ridiculously little.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 08:03:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to admit that the research and text is down to a friend of mine, who looked into it for someone else.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really? So how many grains are there in a sack of rice?

by shergald on Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 09:04:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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