Words nourish the hungry: Web phenomenon crosses one billion threshold

Published on 11 September 2007

The head of the UN’s World Food Programme Josette Sheeran acclaims the phenomenally successful internet-based vocabulary game FreeRice as an example of the Web’s power to mobilise millions of people in the fight against global hunger.

The head of the UN’s World Food Programme Josette Sheeran has acclaimed the phenomenally successful internet-based vocabulary game FreeRice as an example of the Web’s power to mobilise millions of people in the fight against global hunger.

 

Every grain of rice is essential in the fight against hunger.

Josette Sheeran, WFP Executive Director

Yesterday marked the one billionth grain of rice donated to WFP through an innovative, dynamic online campaign – enough to feed more than 50,000 people for one day.

 

“Every grain of rice is essential in the fight against hunger,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, adding that hunger claims more lives than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

FreeRice really hits home how the Web can be harnessed to raise awareness and funds for the world’s number one emergency. The site is a viral marketing success story with more than one billion grains of rice donated in just one month to help tackle hunger worldwide.”

Spread the word

For every correct answer to FreeRice’s online vocabulary game, the site donates 10 grains of rice to its official humanitarian partner, WFP.

Just 830 grains of rice were donated on FreeRice’s October 7 launch date. Since then, bloggers and social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook have helped spread the word and, on November 8 alone, over 70 million grains were donated – equivalent to more than seven million clicks on the site.

FreeRice is the latest brainchild of US online fundraising pioneer John Breen, who first tied funds to clicks on the Web in 1999 with the Hunger Site, at the time, a WFP partner. Breen runs the Poverty.com website, a portal for information and facts about hunger and related diseases.

FreeRice relies on private companies’ ad space payments to underwrite donations to WFP.