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ONE at Ten – A decade of working to make poverty history

Flickr, Globetoppers

In today’s podcast, we take a close look at one of the world’s leading anti-poverty advocacy organizations, the ONE Campaign.

The group, founded a decade ago by U2 lead singer Bono and others in the humanitarian community, has nearly 4 million members who use ‘people power’ to encourage governments and policy makers to do the right thing on poverty. Arguably, the ONE Campaign has played a leading role in stimulating popular and political support for some of the biggest initiatives in aid and development, especially against HIV/AIDS.

Bono was busy so we talked with Michael Elliott, CEO of the ONE Campaign and formerly a journalist with TIME and Fortune who has covered many global issues.

Michael Elliott
Michael Elliott

We explore with Elliott the dramatic progress made over the past decade in reducing rates of extreme poverty, and how much of this ONE can take credit for (In fairness: It’s impossible to know for sure – which is one of the challenges of doing advocacy and showing impact).

We note that the ONE Campaign is largely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to the tune of some $123 million so far. Yet the ONE Campaign doesn’t actually directly help poor people, by giving them food or money. Where is all that money going and what’s it doing?

TIME's Persons of the Year
TIME’s Persons of the Year

Tom Paulson also asks if the ONE Campaign might sound too much like an arm of the Gates Foundation, as opposed to operating as an independent advocacy organization with aims of its own. But mostly, we celebrate the fact that global poverty is now on the global agenda – and that ONE has had a lot to do with achieving that.

Before we chat with Elliott, Paulson and I talk about some the hot news in the humanosphere. A story by our Boston correspondent, Tom Murphy, explores the rise and fall of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian celebrity who made herself into a leading opponent of sex trafficking – but by falsely claiming to have been a victim, among other things.

We highlight a new UN report that says greatly expanding the use of midwives worldwide would do more for mothers and newborn babies than almost any other health intervention. I also point to a great story by Paulson on the unknown prankster side to a renowned global health hero, the man who figured out how to rid the world of smallpox, William Foege. Turns out, Foege loves practical jokes. Fun read!

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.