UNDP releases new message on famine, with recording by Dartmouth Aires

Jan 20, 2012

New YorkThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today released a new video message aimed at highlighting a deadly ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa, with a song recorded by the renowned Dartmouth College a cappella group, the Aires, and dedicated to UNDP.

“We at UNDP are deeply grateful to the Aires for using their musical gifts and their celebrity to help raise awareness of the plight of people in the Horn of Africa,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

“Drought is not avoidable, but famine is. It arises from conditions which the international community can help address. UNDP is working hard to build resilience, restore livelihoods, and support communities moving to a sustainable path. Public awareness of and support for this work is essential,” Helen Clark said.

The Dartmouth Aires began performing in 1946 but didn’t achieve international celebrity until 2011, when they secured a spot as finalists in the NBC network television show “The Sing-Off.” As one of five university groups and the only Ivy League musicians competing, they placed second and now have a global following. They performed at the White House in December 2011.

On 7 January 2012, before a sold-out concert at Lincoln Center, the award-winning, all-male, undergraduate group visited UN Headquarters to record “Calling My Children Home,” along with a public service message for UNDP. The song, which draws on traditional ballads, evokes a close-knit clan scattered to distant regions, much as the ongoing famine has forced starving families to leave their villages and walk, often for weeks, in search of food.

“We wanted to give something back,” Aires business manager Ethan Weinberg said. “We have a larger following now, and we wanted to use our reach for a good cause.”

Countries in the Horn of Africa have been facing severe drought and the worst food crisis in 20 years, affecting an estimated 13 million people. UNDP has been working with communities in the region as an essential part of the response, addressing underlying factors of livelihoods and governance.

The Aires comprise 19 diverse undergraduates, all students at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

For more information on UNDP’s response to the Horn of Africa crisis, visit: http://bit.ly/nM5ijT

Contact information

Sarah Jackson-Han, Tel.: +202 331 9130; sarah.jackson-han@undp.org

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