1 December 2000


1 December 2000

Press Briefing



To mark the World AIDS Day celebrated today, this week launched a new programme targeting HIV/AIDS in four countries, David Morrison, President of Foundation told a Headquarters press briefing this afternoon.

He said that under the programme, Netaid had partnered with groups actually doing predominantly AIDS prevention work in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Myanmar to support populations at risk. Two kinds of population were being targeted. One group was those who were not HIV-infected but stood a statistically very high probability of being infected. They were primarily young people.

The second group, he said, was people who were not infected but were dramatically affected. Those included AIDS orphans, students in schools that had lost a lot of teachers and families where, perhaps, the breadwinner had died because of HIV/AIDS.

The programme supported the kinds of interventions that had worked in places like the United States, Senegal and Uganda, he said. They included public awareness, outreach capacity-building and, in some cases, direct support.

Netaid, through its Web site, offered a series of kits, essentially bundles of goods and services, which visitors could purchase and donate to support projects supported by the programme. One of the kits supports the love-Life group and the centres promoted by the group. The centres were youth-friendly institutions where kids could learn about behaviours that would allow them to stay HIV-free.

Another kit supports a hotline in South Africa, he said. A business start-up kit for Zimbabwe was basically a micro-credit scheme that provides training and a loan to mothers, when the husband or the primary breadwinner has died. Such loans were designed to help the mothers to begin income-generating schemes.

Other kits were also available, he said. Details about the kits were available on the Netaid Web site.

He said that, while Netaid sold the kits, money raising was only one part of the programme. A much bigger part was the educational message, and that message had been featured at the Town Hall Meeting held today to mark the AIDS Day.

The aim of the message was to drive Internet users to the Netaid site, particularly in a country like the United States with a lot of users. Netaid was trying to use the Internet to mobilize the public and to focus attention on some of the areas of the world that were hardest hit but were not getting the support they needed. Press Briefing - 2 - 1 December 2000

Mr. Morrison said that Netaid was also running volunteering programmes in conjunction with the donating programmes. Visitors to the Web site could volunteer their time to provide support to a group that was, in turn, supporting projects in some of the countries that were most strongly affected. That approach was in keeping with the larger Netaid goal, which was to use the Internet to help make the world a better place and to get people involved in the kinds of issues that were core to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the larger United Nations system.

In response to a question, he said that it was hard to say how much money Netaid had raised through direct donations, because all monies raised were channelled directly to organizations supported by Netaid. Netaid did not take any money for itself. The total amounts changed all the time, because they were featured real-time on the Web site. “Every time someone makes a donation, the counter goes up. You can go to the site and do the sum.”

Netaid kept track of donations on a programme-by-programme basis, he said. For instance, the initial goal for a maternal and child health project in Rwanda was to raise $120,000, but about $280,000 had now been raised. Those sums were wholly from public donations through the Web site.

He added that two weeks ago, a programme on clean water for villages in Guatemala was launched. It was promoted by Jewel, one of the original Netaid artists, at an event in which she participated this week, raising nearly $3000.

He added that the Web site received a lot of hits following the inaugural concerts last year, but that had gradually tapered off. The number of hits then climbed back to the same level with the launch of the maternal and child health project in Rwanda. That project, which was in conjunction with the International Rescue Committee, a local group, was featured in Time magazine. Netaid currently received that same level of hits, or more, on a daily basis.

Mr. Morrison said that the programme in Myanmar was being implemented with the approval of the Government. It also enjoyed the support of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and a group called Population Services International, which was doing social marketing of condoms. The programme was already ongoing, and Netaid, by inviting the public to participate in it, was only expanding it. It was an outreach programme targeting seafarers and communities along the southern coast, and providing them with education about how they could stay HIV-free, as well as providing them with condoms.

Netaid was begun by UNDP and the private sector, principally CISCO Systems, he said. Increasingly, other companies had become involved. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Press Briefing - 3 - 1 December 2000

Nations Volunteers had also become involved, and it was hoped that other agencies would shortly come aboard. The goal of Netaid was to enable Internet users to make a difference in the world, with a specific focus on people living in extreme poverty. It aimed to help Internet users learn about issues and countries beyond their own borders and to show them that, via the Internet, they could become directly involved.

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For information media. Not an official record.