From fake cows to thousands of tramping feet, UN food agency gets...

From fake cows to thousands of tramping feet, UN food agency gets its message out

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12 May 2006 From colourful fibreglass cows grazing on Paris streets to on-screen public service announcements in the biggest British railway stations to a march against hunger in more than 100 cities around the globe, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is pulling out all the stops to raise both money and awareness for its cause.

“There are 850 million hungry people around the world and this is too much because the world produces enough food to feed them all,” WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume told a news briefing in Geneva today about the march planned for 21 May. “It is a problem of mobilization and lack of political will.”

The “march the world” will start in each country at 10 a.m., with some 360 such events being organized and will cover about six kilometres in an effort to sensitize people to the food shortages around the planet.

In Paris, 150 life-sized fibreglass bovines decorated by artists have been dotted around the French capital where they will continue grazing for two months before being auctioned off. The profits will go to WFP and the Africa Alive Foundation. In past auctions elsewhere such as in New York, Sydney and Prague, the so-called “Cow Parade” has raised up to $25,000 for a single animal.

Meanwhile across the English Channel, British commuters will be able to tune in to on-screen broadcasts of a selection of WFP’s public service announcements. Huge outside screens at railway stations in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, will carry footage, including WFP’s “Horn of Africa” appeal.

The screening has been made possible by a generous donation of time by one of Britain’s biggest outdoor advertising companies, “Titan Outdoor.” The company says that in the space of one week, some 28 million people will walk past the screens carrying the WFP commercials. Of these, it is estimated that almost 2 million will stand and watch for a period of time while they wait for their trains to arrive.

In recent years, as consumers begin to get information from an increasingly diverse array of media, WFP has made use of advertising space on billboards, in newspapers, on big outdoor screens as well as television and cinema as a key strategy for getting messages about hunger across to the general public.

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