LONDON — The Living Proof campaign launches today in Europe, with the aim of challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about development assistance, using a series of success stories that will galvanise support, energise activists and ultimately inspire action. With the message that effective aid in global health and development is working, the campaign will share the proof that smart aid is having a lasting impact on people’s lives and livelihoods and advancing real progress in developing countries.
Now, more than ever, stories need to be heard about how effective, affordable solutions to the global problem of extreme poverty are being found and delivered and that transparent, accountable aid has proven, life saving results. In the last 50 years, child deaths in the developing world have been cut by more than 50%, despite the birth rate increasing; polio cases have been reduced by 99%; measles deaths in Africa dropped by 92% between 2000 and 2008; and malaria cases have been reduced by 50% in 38 countries between 2000 and 2008. Living Proof will bring these statistics to life, telling the stories of the people behind the numbers, and the real lives that have been transformed.
Speaking ahead of the UK launch of the Living Proof campaign, the co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation delivered the following message:
“Development aid, when spent wisely, is the most effective investment that governments can make for saving lives, improving livelihoods, and building prosperous societies,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “When we find a leverage point that’s so powerful, we should do more of it.”
“When we find a way to save millions of lives, to give hundreds of millions of families the ability to make a healthy, productive future, we should give it everything we’ve got,” added Melinda Gates, co-chair.
“There has s been a lively but misleading debate in recent years, about whether aid is all bad or all good, which has left some with a false impression of failure when in fact there are astounding statistics and stories of success to celebrate – and build upon. Living Proof aims to present these well kept secret stories of success to a wider public who have a right to know – and, frankly, feel good about – the transformative results of their smarter aid.” said ONE’s Executive Director, Jamie Drummond. “The UK has led the world for over a decade on development, and the coalition government’s welcome commitment that cutbacks shouldn’t costs lives, and development promises should be kept, isn’t just the morally right move – it’s also in our long term interests to ensure vulnerable regions of the world become more prosperous, peaceful trading partners.”
Deputy Director for the Global Fund for AIDS TB and Malaria, Debrework Zewdie said; “Smart aid flows don’t simply deliver external interventions in an old fashioned top down way – they empower the citizens of developing countries to drive and determine priorities and strategies. That’s the lasting and sustainable solution, as championed by the Global Fund. One day soon we hope it will help us end the need for aid, but today and tomorrow this approach is making it possible to save 4,000 lives daily in communities across Africa and the developing world. 4,000 lives saved each and every day: that’s one amazing fact I’d like Living Proof to promote.”
ONE’s network of over 2 million members around the world will be sharing this proof, via their social media networks, with their friends and family and their elected representatives, with the aim of changing the way people think about development aid. Jamie Drummond commented: “As people who care about fighting extreme poverty we often focus on the immediate issues – the current humanitarian crisis or a pressing political issue – but we forget to tell people how valuable their efforts have been, how they have really helped to save lives or to empower a community. Living Proof is about giving people the hard evidence and inspiring stories that will encourage them to keep going in the fight against poverty and disease, but we hope to do this in a fresh and innovative way.” ONE is also integrating the theme of Living Proof throughout its campaigning work.
ONE is working closely with its partners to develop open source content so that the NGO community can use Living Proof to mobilise people around the world to help secure long term, sustainable support for international development. Drummond continued: “Living Proof will have the greatest impact if it doesn’t just belong to one organisation, but that our community owns it – ONE is committed to sharing the content and working with our partners to develop the best possible products to support their campaigns and advocacy work. We are excited to undertake this work which will focus on telling the stories of progress that inspire action, in the UK and around the world”.
Phil Bloomer, Oxfam’s Director of Campaigns and Policy, said: “Living Proof reflects what Oxfam lives with everyday – alongside our partners in communities across the world.
“Poor people are demanding and getting better health services and schools. More girls are in school, more infants’ lives are secure and communities are protecting themselves against the rising tide of climate disasters.
“No one can be complacent, but Living Proof’s celebration of real success is the best antidote to the cynical voices who want us to believe nothing works – so let’s do nothing.”