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TikTok launches global dance challenge to fight world hunger


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The United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has launched an innovative, global dance challenge on the short-form mobile video platform TikTok. Users have been asked to upload a 15-second dance video and add the hashtag #DanceforChange, all in support of creating opportunities for rural youth in some of the world's poorest countries.

There are 1.2 billion young people aged 15-24 in the world today. A press release by the IFAD reveals that over 80 per cent of these young people live in developing countries, and their numbers are fast-growing in low-income African nations where poverty remains the most intractable in rural areas. In Africa, it is estimated that '11 million young people...will be joining the job market every year for the next decade' — the majority of them in rural areas where agriculture is still the most significant source of livelihoods.

Image Courtesy of IFAD/David Pacqui Photo of Sherrie Silver teaching young farmers in dance in rural Cameroon for an advocacy music video// Image Credit: IFAD/DavidPacqui

IFAD will use results from the dance challenge in their advocacy efforts to remind world leaders of the need to increase investments in agriculture as well as long-term development and training for rural youth.

At the heart of the challenge is the 'Freedom Song’ alongside an especially designed choreography. The song was produced by African recording artist Mr Eazi, - born Oluwatosin Oluwole Ajibade –  and the choreography was done by award-winning choreographer Sherrie Silver, who is also IFAD's Advocate for Rural Youth.

Mr Eazi

Mr Eazi // Image Credit: Mr Eazi/ EmilyNakanga

Together the two artists have created a video to encourage people to join the dance movement.

In an interview for The National Student, Silver explained the challenge’s importance and its aims. She said,

“The challenge is about changing perceptions and is helping to shine a light on an underappreciated development issue – the immense potential of young people and investment in agriculture to help eradicate hunger and poverty around the world.

"Young people in developing countries know what they need, but they are not being heard. Equal access to education and technology, land distribution, good governance and a fairer economic system.

“Our aim is to get young people doing it worldwide to help get the attention of policymakers and leaders so they can designate more funding towards rural youth and agriculture.

Silver added that they wanted "more governments to commit larger amounts of funding towards agricultural development and for governments in Africa to invest more in youth-sensitive projects, policies and investments that help young people thrive. The next generation of young farmers need access to land, access to banking and finance, and new tools and technologies if they are going to succeed.

“It is so wonderful to see that in a few weeks so many young people - over 11,000 - engaged on TikTok on this issue and created videos in support of this cause. The reception has been fantastic. It’s kind of like an online dance protest.

Image Courtesy of IFAD/ David Pacqui

Photo of Sherrie Silver with a young farmer (Gabrielle Etah right) from an IFAD-supported programme in rural Cameroon// Image Credit: IFAD/DavidPacqui

“I really believe every voice matters. Imagine what could happen if governments and donors around the world spent as much on agriculture and investing in young farmers as they do on humanitarian aid. Imagine how many more young people would prefer to stay in rural communities and take up farming if the roads were paved and the villages had electricity, internet connection, technology, clean water, and decent shops. There would be jobs and food security. There would be peace and stability. There would be less damage to the environment. There would be hope for our future.

"I am challenging everyone around the world- young and old – artists, athletes, social media influencers – to join me in transforming the future of farming.”

In addition to launching #DanceforChange, IFAD has released the '2019 Rural Development Report: Creating Opportunities for Rural Youth’.

The report examines the crucial role that rural youth can play in transforming global food systems and building rural economies in developing countries over the coming decade, calling today’s youth the “key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and indeed, to our planet’s future”.

The dance challenge is on-going, and more information on how to take part can be found on the campaign website, including thousands of dance clips already shared as part of the challenge.

Lead Image Credit: IFAD/DavidPacqui

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