Telefood '97 reaches a global audience of 100 million

An estimated 100 million people tuned in to FAO's first global Telefood telecast on Sunday 19 October. A star-studded gala concert at the Vatican, featuring international singing stars Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras and Tony Bennett, topped off a daylong transmission from Italy that was relayed by satellite to some 60 countries on four continents. Many countries also broadcast programmes of their own on TeleFood themes.

Artists come together in support of Telefood at gala evening at the Vatican

In several countries TeleFood programmes included appeals for donations. In Italy, contributions climbed above US$1.2 million by the end of the broadcast. In Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, US$26 000 had been raised through a series of events over the course of several days.

"Everyone concerned has shown that as human beings they will not accept that other human beings should be chronically hungry," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "We need to make people around the world aware of the issues so that no one can ignore the daily reality of hunger."

His words were echoed by numerous celebrities who supported the event. "TeleFood is about helping to put enough food in the bellies of more than 800 million people who go to bed hungry every night, many them kids who should be growing fit and strong," said Brazilian football star Ronaldo. "It needs the support of all of us."

Dr Diouf expressed his gratitude for the generosity of donors and repeated an earlier pledge that all the money collected would go to funding practical grassroots projects in the world's poorest countries: "The money will go to the people who can use it. We are not giving people food, but the means to grow it for themselves, to achieve their own food security and become independent of aid."

He added that next year's TeleFood would include features showing how donations had benefited farmers in projects covering matters such as water management, crop and animal diversification and the use of higher yielding and more resilient crop varieties.

Donations to the TeleFood effort are being accepted up to the end of November and CartaSi will maintain a site through which on-line donations can be made until 26 October. Details of arrangements for contributions in individual countries are listed on the Telefood web site.

21 October 1997

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