An Invisible Problem
Sportis: We wanted to have a spot where we could say: hey guys, hunger is on the spot, and we need to take care of it soon, if we want development to happen

Narrator: Cecile Sportis is the director of the Paris office of the World Food Program. Her job is about public relations, and getting people to think about an issue they donít really want to think about.

Sportis: Hunger has become a taboo. It was so big after the War, people want to forget about it. So we have to tell them, what happened with you with food and development, we have to do the same with developing world- we have to help them.

> MUSIC (Amadou and Mariam)

Narrator: We want everyone to have food and water. Letís fight against world hunger. Long live SolidarityÖ Thatís Amadou, of the Malian duo Amadou and Maraim, who started out the dayís entertainment

> MUSIC (Amadou and Mariam)

Narrator: With the music in the background, tourists snap pictures of the Eiffel tower and eat ice cream. There is a smell of waffles and crepes wafting around the plaza. Many of the people here did not come for the WFP event. As they listened to the music, they werenít necessarily thinking about the fact that one person dies of hunger every five seconds.

Woman 1: We are here, we are visiting Paris, so we hear the music, but uh- we hear the music but we donít think about hunger.

Woman 2: I work with an NGO in Mali, and so Iím very concerned about hunger and poverty in the world. But in France I canít say if a lot of people are thinking about hunger in the world.

Man: I donít think people in Europe they really know- this kind of problem. They think oh- I donít know what car Iím going to buy next year

Gallagher: Most Europeans and north Americans donít really- you go around the average day, you do not see hungry people.

Narrator: Neil Gallagher is the communications director of the World Food Program

Gallagher: Hunger is an abstraction that people read about. Or occasionally theyíll see a picture of a starving kid in Niger on television, but itís not a reality in their daily lives. Quite the opposite. There are now more overweight people in the world, which is about a billion, than there are hungry people in the world, which is about 850 million. If youíre trying to sell a problem that really is not very visible in the community, itís difficult. How do you explain to people who are so well fed- maybe with the best food in the world- that someone else is hungry?

Narrator: One way is to play music- and hope that people pick up the message

Gallagher: One message we try to get out is even today hunger and malnutrition claims more lives than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Very few people realize that.

> MUSIC (Tom Diakite)

Narrator: Along the plaza are stands selling shirts, caps and other merchandise to raise money for school based food programs

WFP sales woman: Business is good. Tourists and people walking by the Eiffel Tower on a Sunday evening. I donít know if they like the t-shirts or the believe in the message, but at least they are buying them!

> MUSIC (Paula Estrella)

Narrator: So once people have bought a T-Shirt, and have heard the message, then what? Again, Cecile Sportis, director of the WFP Paris office:

Sportis: We- considered the most important part of our action is on the field. But on the other hand, Paris, Berlin, London, has been opened with this in mind, that citizens go to the government, goes to the MPs and say do something about it. If people donít talk to their representatives in the senate, nothing is going to happen.

> MUSIC (Tom Diakite)


This piece aired October 15, 2006, on Radio France International.


Producer: Sarah Elzas
Recorded Paris, France
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