"Pop-music icons and world leaders joined forces Wednesday to launch a Web site aimed at attacking international poverty and to announce an upcoming mega-benefit concert."
At a news conference in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "musician/mogul" Quincy Jones, and artists Bono, David Bowie and Wyclef Jean of The Fugees introduced www.netaid.org, which was touted as the world's "most powerful" Web site (Elysa Gardner, USA Today, 9 Sep). The Web site offers a mix of information, fundraising and networking resources for people interested in hunger, refugees, debt relief, human rights and the environment. It was designed to handle millions of hits per hour from users all over the globe (UN Wire sources). NetAid spokesperson Bob Chlopak: "The idea is for it to become the largest portal and directory for antipoverty organizations in the world."
Use of the site will be promoted through three rock concerts in New York, London and Geneva on 9 October. The concerts will be televised on the BBC, MTV and VH1, and broadcast on the Internet and on radio stations in 60 countries. Immediate proceeds from the concerts will be devoted to relief work in Kosovo and Africa, channeled through the NetAid Foundation and overseen by the UN Development Program (UNDP) (Jon Pareles, New York Times, 9 Sep). The complete lineup for the shows, announced yesterday, can be found on the NetAid site (UN Wire sources).
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, US President Bill Clinton and South African President Nelson Mandela took part via satellite, clicking on their computer controls to activate the site. Mandela said the project would "strengthen the bonds between the peoples of the world" and provide resources that poor communities can use "to uplift themselves" (BBC, 9 Sep). Clinton said it "represents a truly new front in the struggle against poverty" (Associated Press/Financial Times, 9 Sep).
'Rescuing' Aid From Its Bureaucratic Reputation
In an International Herald Tribune commentary, UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown notes that development aid has "become associated with waste, corruption and a hopeless dependence. ... NetAid is a means of rescuing development assistance from its big bureaucracy reputation" (9 Sep).