“Zoom-in on Poverty” global photo contest offers a glimpse of world poverty and calls for refocus and action

17 Oct 2011

As the world observed the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, an award ceremony and exhibition were held today to mark the conclusion of the “Zoom-in on Poverty” Global Photo Contest. Organised by the Xinhua News Agency and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this competition has offered a timely insight into the status of world poverty through compelling photographs that portray some of the major causes, solutions and achievements made in poverty alleviation to date.

At a time when efforts to reduce poverty face the new challenges presented by uneven growth, degraded natural resources and food security crises, this event was designed to showcase the effects that worldwide inequalities are having on the 1.44 billion people currently living in poverty around the world. It is also intended to inspire people to take a more active role in identifying steps that they can take to help tackle these challenges.

Over 32,000 entries from 109 countries and regions were eventually received following the launch of the contest earlier this year. Among them were professional entries from journalists representing 262 media agencies, including Reuters, Associated Press, Itar-Kass News, Kyodo News, and The Daily Nation of Kenya. Meanwhile, the competition proved to be equally popular among thousands of amateur participants located around the globe.

The award ceremony was witnessed by UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, who delivered a speech in recognition of the contest’s important role in advocacy for action against poverty. In doing so, her remarks echoed that of a similar address which she gave in Beijing at the 2011 Global Poverty Reduction and Development Forum earlier in the day, in which she emphasised the importance of improving the living conditions of poor communities and accelerating sustainable poverty reduction. 

“The photos we see here today tell their own stories – stories of hardship, but also of triumph,” she said. “They remind us how far the world still has to go to eradicate poverty, and of the need to put people at the centre of our thinking and actions – to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, and to give all people the opportunity to participate in the development process.”

Mr. Li Congjun, President of Xinhua News Agency, was also keen to impress a sense of responsibility upon the competition’s many participants.

“Poverty alleviation is at the core of all of the Millennium Development Goals and is an obligation that we all share as human beings,” said Li. “As a growing international media group, this is something at the heart of Xinhua News Agency and our partnership with the United Nations Development Programme,” he added.

During the event, winners from each of the competitions’ 7 categories were given the chance to explain the stories and concepts behind their images, before being presented with their awards. Among those to receive Gold Prize Awards was Italian photographer Stefano De Luigi, who won the Editorial Images Best Professional Stories Award for his portrayal of the human and environmental dimensions of poverty in a collection of thought-provoking images, entitled simply “Drought in Kenya”. By far the most popular category – The Netizen’s Choice Award – went to Wu Xiaoling, whose depiction of the hope of those living in the newly formed South Sudan, were delicately captured in his “Blossoming out of the Dust” entry.

This latest cooperation between the United Nations and Xinhua represents the strengthening of their broad strategic partnership aimed at promoting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which include combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women, by 2015. And, following the success of this project, Ms. Clark took the opportunity to thank Xinhua its commitment to human development.

“Xinhua’s support in relation to this contest reinforces the important role of the media in raising awareness about poverty and has set a good example of social responsibility,” she concluded.

*For more details, please visit the photo contest official website: http://www.zoom-inpoverty.org/