5 YouTube Videos Debunking Poverty Myths

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — YouTube can be an efficient and useful tool for raising awareness. These five videos focus on informative efforts by organizations to debunk myths of poverty and inspire viewers to join the campaign for the poor.

Why Bother?


The anti-poverty organization ONE released a video titled “Why Bother?” in January that addresses common problems in eliciting help in the fight against global poverty. The organization utilized children to recite common justifications for not helping the poor. Huffington Post notes in their article that it is more alarming to them to hear children repeat these justifications than politicians or even peers. This creative take on debunking poverty myths has received over 77,000 views on their main video and an additional 7,000 on the duplicate upload referenced by Huffington Post. The video cites progress over the past decade including over 15 million more kids alive, 46 million more in school, “all for less than one percent of the total U.S. budget.” The video ends with the soft and gentle voice of a young child stating, “we’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice.”

Bill Nye, Science Guy, Dispels Poverty Myths


The Gates Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to eliminating poverty. Their video release, part of their #stopthemyth campaign, features Bill Nye discussing three common myths including the amount of money spent by the U.S. government on foreign aid, the number of people killed by preventable disease and the absence of change in places receiving aid. Bill Nye begins the discussion by addressing foreign aid spending noting that we spend less than one percent of our national budget on foreign aid, despite the popular misconception that we spend 25 percent of our budget on international aid. The video goes on to address the misconception that wars and natural disaster kill more people than anything else. Bill Nye proceeds to use a graphic illustration showing that preventable diseases cause the majority of deaths. Utilizing statistics on deaths of children under the age of five, Nye shows that 6 percent of children die from injuries while 83 percent die from preventable disease. The last issue Nye addresses is the misconception that despite aid, Africa hasn’t improved. Nye refutes this by citing data that shows the child mortality rate in Africa has been reduced by half in the past two decades. The video has received more than 106,00 views on YouTube.

Bill Gates: Foreign Aid Works


As part of the Gates foundation’s #stopthemyth campaign they released a second video featuring Bill Gates discussing foreign aid myths. Using graphical comparisons of developed, undeveloped and developing countries in 1960 and 2010 Gates illustrates the impact foreign aid has had on health and income. In 1960, child deaths were as high as 25 percent before the age of five.  Utilizing data from 2010, Gates shows that even in low-income undeveloped countries, the child mortality rate has been reduced by half and in countries that have developed to be considered middle income, which is most countries including Brazil and China, the reduction has been even higher. The video has received over 130,000 views on YouTube.

Top 5 Myths about Global Poverty Debunked


The organization Global Citizen also released a video as part of the #stopthemyth campaign addressing the top five myths of poverty. The video features inspirational music and flash card presentations of common myths followed by the facts that debunk these myths. The video discusses Africa being perceived as a poor continent. Global Citizen addresses this noting that Africa is rich in resources but that poor governance and corruption have led to an unequal distribution of these resources.  The second misconception presented notes the myth that volunteering overseas is the only way to help. Global Citizen follows this by noting the importance of impacting systems such as the government so that they help the poor rather than keep people poor. The video shows that this can easily be done from home. The third and fourth myths addressed are that there is not enough food and too many children. The video notes that there is more than enough food and that we simply need to develop more efficient and sustainable ways to grow and deliver such food.  With regard to overpopulation, the video discusses the backwards logic of such an assumption noting that as poverty is decreased population growth declines. The final and common myth that poverty is getting worse is addressed by citing the reduction in extreme poverty by half since 1981, but does not disregard that 22 percent of the population is still living in extreme poverty. Global Citizen closes the video with this as an inspirational strategy. The video has received over 30,000 views on YouTube.

We are Behind You toward #ZeroPoverty2030


This fifth video by Global Citizen is not focused on debunking poverty myths but presents a positive and inspiring outlook on the future of extreme poverty — or the lack of it. The video, which is part of the #ZeroPoverty2030 campaign, begins by informing viewers of the reality that is the elimination of extreme poverty and outlines some of the greatest achievements of anti-poverty efforts so far. This video features quotes from leaders who have spoken against poverty including Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy and Malala Yousafzi. The video closes with a speech by the late Nelson Mandela which ends with these words: “Poverty is not natural, it is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” 

Some may ask, why are these videos important? Some of the biggest obstacles in fighting global poverty are the misconceptions that exist around it. These misconceptions can drive policy or even put a stop to programs that would otherwise help. Awareness is key. For those with a short attention span most of these videos are under two minutes, making them an easy and quick share on social media. These creative uses of YouTube videos debunking poverty have totaled over 350,000 views and show promise for future social media campaigns. All it takes is one click and two minutes to raise someone’s awareness, and these videos provide the tool to do so.

Photo: Google Developers

Christopher Kolezynski

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Christopher Kolezynski

Christopher Kolezynski is a BORGEN Magazine writer based in Cleveland, OH.

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