13 Nov 2012

New series aims to spark contemporary poverty debate

Why Poverty?, a series of documentaries highlighting contemporary poverty around the world, will launch on BBC1 on 19 November. The Open University and BBC – in conjunction with more than 70 broadcasters around the world - will explore why a billion people still live in poverty in the 21st century.

From a behind-the-scenes look at Bob Geldof and Bono’s 30 year campaign and the moving story of illiterate women becoming solar engineers, to films exploring the impact of multinationals in Zambia and the privatisation of education in China, the series will give expression to a diverse range of voices from around the world and hopes to start a new debate about contemporary poverty.

Dr Helen Yanacopulos, Senior Lecturer in International Politics and Development at The Open University and Academic Consultant for the series, said: “In asking the provocative question, Why Poverty?, the films link poverty to global processes of economic, political and social change, and the everyday choices and uncertainties we all face. The programmes and supporting online information are part of The Open University’s commitment to education and social justice. We’d love viewers to join the global debate and ask Why Poverty?”

Launching with Four Born Every Second the spotlight is on birth and infant mortality around the world, and how circumstances and place of birth determine life expectancy.

Give Us The Money reviews Bob Geldof and Bono’s campaign to make poverty history.

Stealing Africa looks at why Zambia, one of the most mineral rich countries in Africa, is also one of the most economically poor.

Park Avenue: Money, Power and The American Dream focuses on two Park Avenues in Manhattan – a plush apartment building and an area in the South Bronx where life prospects are less good.

Poor Us – An Animated History of Poverty looks back at the changing attitudes to poverty throughout history.

Solar Mamas follows the remarkable story of Jordanian mother-of-four, Rafea, who overcomes the objections of her patriarchal husband to train as a solar engineer and bring light to her beleaguered village.

The Great Land Rush focuses on food security and the rush for arable land as vast tracks of the developing world are bought up or leased by multi-national agribusiness.

Finally, China’s Ant People explores the privatisation of the Chinese education system which sees many of the country’s poorest children studying at low standard private colleges and two million graduates each year who end up with no job – the so called ‘ant tribe’.

Notes to Editors
Why Poverty? is a global cross-media event produced in partnership with The Open University and will see the same eight films screened in 180 countries.

Executive Producer for the BBC is Nick Fraser. The Academic Consultant for The Open University is Dr Helen Helen Yanacopulos.

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