UCL News


Did Live Aid equal social change?

5 May 2004

Twenty years after the world was alerted to the plight of millions of people starving in Ethiopia, a team of UCL students will travel to the country as part of a research project to assess how it has developed, in particular looking at social conditions in its major city.

Derek Dyson, Sam Heslop, Jo Crampton & Roz Davies.

Sam Heslop (Geography) will be leading a team of four to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 2004. When discussing innovative research projects, the team found that the subject of Ethiopia came up over and over again, mainly because since the famous Live Aid concert in the 1980s few have monitored or researched the current social conditions in the country.

This project will give valuable insight into the country and would also help the University of Addis Ababa, as it will inherit all the findings from the work undertaken by the team, who hope that this project will be the grounding for more social research in the area.

The researchers will spend seven weeks in Addis Ababa, for the most part visiting the streets to observe peoples way of life, as well as drinking water quality in the city, perceptions and realities of healthcare, urban agriculture and the informal business sector - business which is beyond formal recognition and which people engage in outside formal systems of control and remuneration. They will also try to interview some of the traders in the city's markets, with the help of students from the University of Addis Ababa who will be paid to act as guides and translators.

Sam said: "We hope that our work will shed some light on the current situation in the country, which is very unusual as it has never been colonised and was a socialist country between 1974 and 1991."

The team are looking for funding via donations to make sure that their trip is successful, but maintain that even if they do not raise the full amount, the project will still go ahead. Alternatively if they manage to raise more than the total required, the extra funds will be re-donated to the University of Addis Ababa. They will also donate a package containing writing paper and materials for school children, which are difficult for them to obtain, and presents for the people of Ethiopia.

So far half of the total has been with raised with some of the funding donated by UCL, British Airways, Specsavers and WEXAS International, and they have the Patronage of Mr Myles Wickstead, former HM Ambassador to Ethiopia. The project is approved and supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

Anyone hoping to make a donation towards the trip should contact Mr Heslop using the link below.

Link: Sam Heslop