UN partners with Dartmouth a cappella group to spotlight Horn of Africa famine

20 January 2012

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

“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.

Earlier this month, before a sold-out concert at Lincoln Center, the award-winning, all-male, undergraduate group visited UN Headquarters in New York 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.

The Dartmouth Aires began performing in 1946 but didn’t achieve international celebrity until 2011, when they placed second on the NBC network television show “The Sing-Off” and gained fans all over the world.

“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.”

Dartmouth College a cappella group, the Aires.

According to UNDP, an estimated 13 million people have been affected by the worst food crisis in 20 years in the Horn of Africa, which continues to face severe droughts. UNDP has been working with communities in the region as an essential part of the response, addressing underlying factors of livelihoods and governance.Last month, the UN appealed for $1.5 billion to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people in Somalia during 2012.

“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,” Miss Clark said.

 

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