ONE campaign shuts down questions to Bill & Melinda Gates

One and only Bono

That’s funny, just after I noted there was this web site where people could ask Bill and Melinda Gates questions, the ONE campaign turned it off.

Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe it was because I noted that there’s been some controversy regarding ONE’s spending practices.

You can read what I wrote here.

Anyway, on Monday Oct. 18, Bill and Melinda Gates will be doing a webcast of the foundation’s Living Proof project — stories of success in global health.

They’re doing it with the ONE campaign, which the Gates Foundation largely funds — and which has come under some criticism for the way it spends its money.

I noted this and provided this link for you folks to ask them questions. But they apparently aren’t taking questions anymore.

Update: The Gates Foundation says they don’t know why ONE shut down the ability for people to submit questions. ONE has not answered my email, or my Tweets, asking them why.

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About Author

Editor Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom-at-humanosphere.org, follow him on Twitter @tompaulson and/or send a comment below.

  • Kakll

    World health makes my head ache, so many complexities and such great need. So can we slip in one simple question: why does Bono wear those dopey glasses? And is posing with Gucci bags induce Malaria-carrying bugs to not suck blood?

  • Marla Smith-Nilson

    I’m not surprised at all by ONE’s finances. I think they have clearly stated that they are an advocacy organization, so that means we will see money going to salaries rather than funding aid projects.

    The real question for me about ONE’s activities is: do we really want to advocate MORE government spending on aid?

    Before we invest a lot of time trying increase government funding, shouldn’t we ask ourselves what the prognosis for success is? The US is among the stingiest of the world’s wealthy countries when it comes to allocating a proportion of its national budget to international aid. To add insult to injury, we attach the most strings to that aid. The meager amount of aid that we do allocate generally has geopolitical objectives in mind. The number one recipient of aid has consistently been Israel, not exactly a nation with the demographic characteristics of Bangladesh or Burundi.

    US aid passes through the governments of the recipient nations. Those governments have their own motivational factors that play into the allocation of the funding. Rarely is the well being of the poorest among them a high priority of those governments. When money is passed through this complex array of decision makers with disparate motivational factors influencing their choices, is it any wonder that very little actually trickles down to the world’s poorest? Is the system one that can be fixed or is it one we should bypass?

    I believe it’s much more effective to focus our efforts on direct actions with needy communities. Our organization (Water 1st) and others are out there doing that, and one of our goals in the process is to create stronger communities, so they can be better advocates for themselves in pressuring their own governments, whom they elect, to start making the issues of the poor a priority.

    After reading The First Post piece, I started to wonder how much Bono really believes in increasing government aid. It was pretty surprising to me that U2 moved its song catalog from Ireland to the Netherlands where they would pay less tax.

    • http://humanosphere.kplu.org Tom Paulson

      Hi Marla,

      Thanks. I think you make some good points, about the inefficiency and politicalized nature of government foreign aid. Bill and Melinda Gates, in the Living Proof event, talk about this — noting that it can be effective when done the right way (e.g., the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria). Bono’s organization, ONE organization, is private and isn’t about funding anti-poverty efforts anyway. It’s an advocacy organization. Maybe, to your point, someone needs to come up with a metric to evaluate the effectiveness of advocacy.

      • Marla Smith-Nilson

        Another thought that I just had about the effectiveness of this type of campaign – I wonder if the US Congress actually feels any pressure to increase foreign aid. In all the polls I’ve seen, most Americans think (incorrectly) that foreign aid is one of the top recipients of US federal spending.

  • Danielle

    According to ONE on that link they are no longer taking questions so they can sift through the ones they have received. I guess they were overwhelmed with questions. I wish they would just list all the questions they received, instead of listing just a handful of rotating questions on a side bar. It’s cute but lacks transparency, which is supposed to be the whole point of taking questions.

    I believe that ONE means well (perhaps naive of me), but sometimes they prioritize style over substance, which is self-defeating.

    • Tom Paulson

      Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for commenting. ONE was still advertising (on Twitter) that they wanted more questions from people for this event with Bill & Melinda, even though they had shut the web site down. They wanted them submitted via Twitter only, I guess. So I don’t think they were overwhelmed.

      In fact, maybe they were underwhelmed — since the Living Proof event today didn’t mention the questions and Bill & Melinda didn’t seem to answer any questions submitted by ONE.

      I also think ONE probably means well, but they need to be willing to take hard questions and be transparent. I think they have room to improve on that front.

    • http://humanosphere.kplu.org Tom Paulson

      Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for commenting. ONE was still advertising (on Twitter) that they wanted more questions from people for this event with Bill & Melinda, even though they had shut the web site down. They wanted them submitted via Twitter only, I guess. So I don’t think they were overwhelmed.

      In fact, maybe they were underwhelmed — since the Living Proof event today didn’t mention the questions and Bill & Melinda didn’t seem to answer any questions submitted by ONE.

      I also think ONE probably means well, but they need to be willing to take hard questions and be transparent. I think they have room to improve on that front.

  • http://humanosphere.kplu.org Tom Paulson

    Just finished watching the Living Proof event. It was pretty good and I’ll post on it shortly.

    So far as I can tell from the webcast, ONE didn’t use any of the publicly submitted questions. Odd