From Argo to Congo: Affleck tightens belt in world poverty fight

3 min

Hollywood stars are among the thousands putting their money where their mouth is with "Live Below The Line," a challenge to eat for just $1.50 a day to raise awareness about extreme poverty.


Ben Affleck and Hugh Jackman don’t need to survive on $1.50 a day, but for five days from the end of April they are going to try.

The two celebrities are among thousands around the world taking part in “Live Below The Line,” an initiative to draw attention to the 1.40 billion people around the world living in extreme poverty.

From April 29 to May 3, the event challenges participants to live – or subsist, perhaps – off just $7.50 dollars (5.50 euros) during those five days, a figure just above the World Bank’s definition of extreme poverty ($1.25 per day).

More than 50,000 participants from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States have signed up for the event, now in its second year.

Event organisers Global Poverty Project told FRANCE 24 that 28,866 people joined in the inaugural event, helping to raise $5.50 million (4.2 million euros). This year they hoped to surpass $10 million dollars in donations.

Participants can donate to an association of their choice from the event’s many project partners.

“To end extreme poverty, we need to change the broken systems that keep people poor,” writes the team Global Poverty Project on the dedicated project website. “In order to create this kind of systemic policy change we need to shift attitudes, not only levels of public concern for this issue, but also in the degree of public engagement and understanding of the issues.”

The British branch of UNICEF, which is actively involved in the operation, said that in the five days of the challenge, 27,500 children would die from malnutrition, despite the world producing enough for every child to be fed.

Ben Affleck and Hugh Jackman as ambassadors

Hollywood stars have come out in droves to lend their support. "This is an incredible campaign that really gives us the chance to understand the realities of extreme poverty," Hugh Jackman said in a statement.

"It is certainly a challenge to eat and drink off of $1.50 a day for five days, but for 1.4 billion people, $7.50 is all they have not only for food, but also for living costs, clothing – everything!"

“'Live Below the Line' highlights the challenges that over 1 billion people are faced with every day and urges us to do something about it," the actor famous for incarnating Wolverine in the X-Men series said.

Recent Oscar-winning actor and director Ben Affleck used Twitter to announce his own participation on 23 April. He hopes to draw attention to the situation of internally displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a cause he supports through the Eastern Congo Initiative association, which was founded in 2010.

And for those who doubt they could go the distance, the Global Poverty Project and many journalists and bloggers have already offered their recipe ideas and other menus to get you through the challenge.

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