Tomorrow I start my Live Below the Line challenge for 2013.
LBTL is an innovative campaign, organised by the Global Poverty Project, which seeks to highlight the scandal of over 1 billion people living in extreme poverty – below $1.25 or £1 a day – and raise money for several charities.
After two successful efforts in 2011 and 2012, I am raising money this year for a small but significant project in Burundi where a local NGO is attempting to establish Youth Peace Clubs in every school, with the support of Peace Direct.
Burundi is officially one of the poorest countries in the world. Small – with a population of 8 million – and situated in that cluster of states around the Great Lakes which have seen more than their fair share of conflict, Burundi is moving on from the bitter and violent civil war of a decade ago towards a stable democracy and sustainable development.
I take part in Live Below The Line because it is an effective annual way to raise the issue of extreme poverty. This is the 21st Century. We have the resources, the technology, the finance, the mobility, and the knowledge to do almost anything. Yet over one billion people survive, or don’t, on less than a pound a day. Children die needlessly for want of clean water, basic food and nutrition, shelter and safety.
There are many causes of this: the history of exploitation by the developed world, exploitation and poor governance by post-colonial leaders, unfair trade and discrimination all play their part. But the worst conditions and the most vulnerable people are in states affected by conflict. Violence and instability leave families without basic protections, without stable access to land, work and shelter. And the children fare worst, despite being least responsible for the causes.
That is why I campaign for conflict affected and fragile states to be given a higher priority in international development, and why I have chosen this project – with its long term approach – to support this year.
I will not be living in anything like the conditions suffered by the good people of Burundi. My £1 a day will not cover electricity, transport or housing for example. But it will cover all food and drink.
There will be no coffee, milk or bread. No meat and none of my normal bad habits. It will be porridge, lentil soup and the odd cheap potato or banana for me until midnight Wednesday. But I will be thinking of those families where even this diet would be a luxury. And I’ll let you know how I get on.
To donate please go to https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/jackmcconnell?lang=en