The global non-profit organisation Fund For Peace has launched the Bottom 100 to mark World Refugee Day and draw attention to the world’s poorest people who are struggling at the other end of the many global rich lists.
Rich lists detail the wealthiest individuals and their net worth, but the Bottom 100 highlights individuals and their families who face extreme poverty caused by war, ethnic, religious or social persecution, climate change or forced displacement. It is primarily an online initiative, with people from Australia, the UK and the US invited to sign e-petitions demanding better aid and attention from governments, businesses and influential international organisations towards ending global poverty.
Visitors to the website are presented with images of all 100 people on the list. Click on an image and the user is taken to a page where the person’s story is explained. There is also an audio file on each page, providing a snippet of background voices and noise from that person’s location. At the end of each person’s story is a call to action, with users invited to share the person’s story through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Users can also see where they rank in the world’s rich list by inputting their annual salaries.
The website has been promoted through TV, radio, print and online media as well as through FFP’s social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube:
The list took almost two years to complete and its release coincides with what Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, has called the "worst global humanitarian crisis since the Second World War": more than 20 million people face starvation and famine in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria alone.
"The 100 profiles were compiled by a team of photojournalists who, working pro bono, travelled to 22 countries and by meeting local communities were able to discover the stories," George Lehner, chairman of trustees at FFP, told Third Sector.
"Although the selection of countries was generally guided by the Fragile States Index identification of countries with higher levels of poverty and instability, the actual selection of profiles was not scientific. Rather, the journalists collected stories from people willing to share their experiences and whose experiences were largely representative of their communities. Although the Bottom 100 might appear as a list – and is meant to be an answer to rich lists – we view it more as a collection of stories."
Lehner said the initial response to the project had been "overwhelmingly positive" and that FPP hoped the Bottom 100 would become a regular programme.
In a statement, JJ Messner, executive director of FFP, said: "While the world talks about – and glorifies – so-called rich lists, the attention has nearly always gravitated to those at the top. But what about those at the bottom? There is a lack of visibility around those at the other end of the spectrum.
"There is a human face to poverty, and we need to understand what leads someone into it. It is only when we understand the problem that we can do what we need to give people who live in poverty the chance of better lives."