I'm embarassed to admit that I am a Canadian……….

I was searching through my unread posts on The Book Club Forum a while ago & came across a post from iisaying that she was addicted to this site: free rice – but it didn’t say anything else. I was intrigued, so I went to check it out. In the “About” section of the website, this is what it says:

About FreeRice

FreeRice is a non-profit website run by the United Nations World Food Program. Our partner is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

FreeRice has two goals:

  1. Provide education to everyone for free.
  2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site.

Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.

So, I’ve been playing & have so far have donated over 2000 grains of rice – while having fun learning the meaning of new words & testing my world geography. While taking a break from trying to tell the location of Uzbekistan from Tajikistan Afghanistan and Turkmenistan I decided to have a wander around the website & found Poverty.com, which lead to this post. I read the front page & then went on to the “A solution” section, which lead to the embarrassment at being Canadian.

Annually donating 0.7% of our National Income shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do – otherwise why would we have agreed to the initiative? Thing is though, how many Canadians are actually aware that our government has agreed to this? I wasn’t aware.  Were you? 0.7% per person isn’t a great amount (for me it would be about £168 – which I would gladly give the UN if it meant we eliminated world hunger!

So far only 5 countries have met the pledge they made – Sweden, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway & Denmark. The rest of the 22 countries are severely lagging behind! 6 countries haven’t even identified when they expect to have reached the 0.7% goal – Canada amongst them.

From Poverty.com:

“Why the 0.7% Agreement?

The countries made this agreement because they realized that it was hard for each country on its own to give a consistent, minimum level of aid each year. Despite good intentions, a country would find that the aid it wanted to give was eaten away by competing political interests, concern about budget deficits, “problems at home,” “problems abroad,” and so on. So they agreed to a minimal, flat rate that each country could afford each year regardless of its current political or economic state.

The 0.7% figure may sound complicated, but it is actually quite simple. You take the total income earned by all the people in the country and then the government gives 0.7% (seven tenths of one percent) of that as aid. Or to look at it another way: for every $100 earned in the country, the country gives 70 cents in aid.

How are the countries doing?

… five countries have already met the goal to give 0.7% of their income in international aid: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

In 2002 and 2003, five other countries set up a schedule to give 0.7%: Belgium, Ireland, Finland, France, and Spain.

In July 2004, the United Kingdom set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

In April 2005, Germany set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

In May 2005, Austria, Greece, Italy, and Portugal set up a schedule to give 0.7%.

It was not easy for many of the countries to set up a schedule to reach the 0.7% goal. In some cases, such as Britain and Germany, it took the combined effort of many thousands of citizens writing and petitioning their government to get it done.

The remaining six countries

Only six countries have not yet set up a schedule to give 0.7%. These are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States. To raise the $195 billion a year, these six will need to reach the goal.

These six countries are all democracies. All that is necessary for them to reach the 0.7% goal is for enough of their citizens to show their support.”

So – about the support – give yours, please. Print off the letter that is provided & send it off to Ottawa (or Washington, Downing Street, Canberra, Tokyo, or Wellington depending upon your nationality) & encourage your friends/family to do the same. It’s literally the least we could do – lets force our collective governments to honour the pledges they have made! Lets make our actions & voices speak louder than our government’s empty promises!

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