Fact #1: Nearly 13 million people have been affected by the famine, drought, and war happening across the Horn of Africa.
Fact #2: That number (13 million) is more than four times the number affected by the earthquake in Haiti (3 million) and seven times the number affected by the tsunami in Indonesia (2 million).
Fact #3: Every six minutes, a child in Somalia dies from dehydration or malnutrition.
And my hypothesis: Despite all of this, it’s more likely that you donated to one of the other aforementioned crises and saw more media coverage than you’ve seen around the famine devastating the Horn of Africa. And many of you may be able to name all of the Kardashian sisters quicker than the countries affected by the crisis.*
The Kim’s divorce, the Michael Jackson verdict, and changes in Blake Lively’s relationship status all seem to be getting more press than this crisis. This raises questions about the values of the American media, which are ultimately driven by why sells to the American public. Are we burnt out on hearing about drought and famine in other countries? Do we not care? I vote no on both. We may be burnt out on tired and sad imagery, but we need to know the facts about what is happening in our global society. And we do care: even when life is challenging here, the lowest common denominator for a standard of living is lower for a Somalian refugee than for those struggling to make ends meet here in America, where at least we can turn on a tap for a drink of potable water.
USAID, an agency starting to try to push the envelope on sharing and social media, launched their USAID Forward the Facts (FWD) campaign at the Social Good Summit nearly two months ago. Since then, they have loaded the site with resources and action items people can take, from a $10 text donation to sample letters to the editor and Facebook status updates that “Forward the Facts” about the crisis in the Horn.
Today is their global day of action. The goal: to get 13 million people to forward the facts, hopefully sparking collective advocacy and activism around the crisis. Social networks are powerful things, as this video on the power of information sharing around vaccination illustrates:
Will you join us and share a fact as a status update, send a text donation, or even write your own blog post to increase awareness? Let me know what you decide to do – I’ll happily retweet and share.
*The main countries include Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Parts of South Sudan, Sudan, Djbouti, and Uganda have also been affected.