ONE Against Extreme Poverty

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Every so often, I am fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a worthwhile public policy matter that, while complimenting my work with the City Council, extends beyond its jurisdiction. Recently I was one of several interviewees for a video produced by the University of Washington’s ONE chapter.

ONE, cofounded by the musician Bono, is a nonpartisan grassroots advocacy organization that works primarily in Africa with African activists and policy makers to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease. It does so by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that save lives, help put kids in school and improve their futures.

Ahead of the G8 Summit meeting next month at Camp David, Maryland, ONE is sending this video message to President Obama and other world leaders that US foreign aid investments are working and that extreme poverty needs to remain on the global agenda.

An example of applying foreign aid smartly can be seen in Africa’s cowpea industry. Africa produces 70 percent of the world’s cowpeas (black-eyed peas in the US). But, every year up to 50 percent of this crop is lost to insects. The solution? Three-bag storage, where crop is placed in a single three-bag thick container triple tied and sealed air-tight. This creates an inhospitable environment for pests and allows cowpeas to be stored pest-free for up to a year while avoiding the use of harmful pesticides usually employed to fight insects.

Called the Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) project, this solution is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Purdue University. PICS ensures the bags are created by local manufacturers, bought by local distributors, sold to local vendors, who then sell to the farmers. PICS supports vendors primarily through media and advertisements so local farmers know where to purchase the bags.

Also contributing to the video are Mayor Mike McGinn; UW President Michael Young; Councilmember Richard Conlin; Seattle Legislative Aide Sahar Fathi; Derek Sciba of World Concern; Dean of the UW School of Public Health Dr. Howard Frumkin; and James Pedrick of World Vision.

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