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The Hunger Project is a global, non-profit, strategic organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. We work in 11 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin America to develop effective, bottom-up strategies to end hunger and poverty.
The Hunger Project, in partnership with the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and Logolink, a global learning initiative for citizen participation and local governance, launched the 2014 State of Participatory Democracy Report on Tuesday, September 23 at Inside Park at St. Bart’s in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly.
“The issues that really matter in people’s daily lives – water, sanitation, primary health care, primary education, year-round access to affordable nutrition food, basic safety and social justices – must all be resolved locally,” said Hunger Project Executive Vice President John Coonrod. “Ensuring such services is never simply an administrative matter, rather an exercise in ensuring human rights. The transformation from ‘subject’ to ‘citizen’ is the great unfinished narrative of human history.”
Over the course of the year, The Hunger Project, in partnership with UNDEF, consulted with pioneering civil society organizations and other stakeholders that have invested decades in shifting their countries’ policies towards greater citizen engagement and local democracy. This included areas where democracy is most fragile in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asia – and of the first time – Middle East and North Africa, Arab countries and Western Asia.
These discussions and a widely implemented survey culminated in the 2014 report, which ranks 52 countries on five key dimensions of participatory democracy: active citizenry, political decentralization, administrative decentralization, fiscal decentralization and multi-sectoral planning.
“The main lesson of this year’s report,” Coonrod shared, is “in many countries where national-level democracy and respect for human rights may be fragile, the roots of democratic values are being deepened, and we are seeing new legislation. This expansion of participatory local democracy has yielded improvement of public services and inclusion of an active civil society in the formation of new laws.”
At the launch, Hunger Project President and CEO Åsa Skogström Feldt shared, “Launching this report amidst the discussions of the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] is critical. One year from today – hopefully – the SDGs will be final. And we will work with many others to ensure that the final SDGs will empower women and men around the world to have local governments that work.”
In 2013, our global movement to end hunger took a major leap forward. The world community worked to set a post-2015 development agenda to follow the Millennium Development Goals. We saw the emergence of bold, zero-based goals and international alignment to end hunger and poverty on our planet once and for all.
Now, more than 35 years after The Hunger Project launched with the proclamation that the end of hunger was a possibility, experts agree it is an achievable goal by the year 2030. We celebrate this exciting news. Yet, we recognize business as usual will not get us there. We still need a paradigm shift in how the world approaches development.
This report highlights our work to end hunger in 14,000 communities throughout Africa, South Asia and Latin America as well as our global advocacy efforts in 22 countries. We sustained and grew our vibrant movement of people who know the end of chronic hunger and abject poverty is possible — and that each of us can do something to make it happen.
The latest Human Development Report- Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience- by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sheds light on the broad spectrum of global problems threatening to undercut existing human development efforts and achievements.
It has been a very exciting summer at The Hunger Project-Burkina Faso. Boulkon Epicenter welcomed the Head of the Health and Nutrition Department of UNICEF and a specialist in community health on June 6. Over the course of their visit they met with animators and health program leaders. Some of the programs they were introduced to included: the nutrition education program, the child weighing and monitoring program and the testing of malnourished children program. The head of Boulkon’s health center was also present and bore witness to The Hunger Project-Burkina’s contributions to improving health and nutrition in the area.
The UNICEF delegates expressed their appreciation for the work being done by The Hunger Project. The head of the delegation made the following remark about their visit:
“The Hunger Project’s actions follow a coherent logic regarding the fight against malnutrition. The nursery school, where children are educated from a young age; the food bank; the promotion of income-generating activities through the rural bank; and the nutrition education all work together to end child malnutrition.”
The delegates assured The Hunger Project-Burkina that they are eager to collaborate on community-oriented projects that continue to advance health and nutrition.
Later in the month, The Hunger Project-Burkina signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security. The agreement aims to accelerate progress towards accomplishing the goals under the Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy by the Burkinabe government. It agrees to establish a partnership and collaboration, such that The Hunger Project-Burkina benefits from the technical capacities of the Ministry and its oversight in agricultural activities.
The National Agency of Eco-Villages (ANEV) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency signed an agreement with the Coki Epicenter Rural Bank to implement the Environmental Protection and Financial Sustainability Program. The program aims to promote the use of biodigesters that convert waste into renewable energy.
The agreement establishes the epicenter’s Rural Bank as an intermediary between ANEV and individual microfinance partners. This structure allows partners to reimburse the bank directly, and enables the bank to relend money to new partners interested in constructing biogas systems.
By combusting methane produced from the decomposition of manure without oxygen, biodigesters help reduce methane emissions and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere. Instead, it can be used as gas for cooking, heating and lighting. After the gas is released, the remaining waste product is mixed with straw to create rich compost that can be sold as a natural fertilizer for gardeners. Biodigesters also help women in rural settings have access to cooking fuel, and reduce their expenses towards butane gas, firewood or charcoal
Wurib is located 140 km from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Wurib Epicenter was mobilized and entered its first phase of development in August 2009. It has since reached its second and third phases of sustainability in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Community members like Rukia Tiga have played an important role in prioritizing education and school safety in Wurib. Rukia is 27 years old. Her seven children attend Mikaelo, the only primary school available to them. Like most mothers, she wants her children to flourish in a safe learning environment. However, their school’s lack of resources posed a threat to many of the children’s health.
“Mikaelo was not a suitable place for children. The classroom walls were made of mud. The floors were dusty. Children also suffered from not having a toilet.”
According to Rukia, in the absence of toilets, open areas and playgrounds doubled as a bathroom—making contagious diseases all too commonplace. These problems were compounded by the fact that the school had no access to clean water. All students were expected to carry water with them to school to help clean it.
Alongside the district government and other NGO’s, including The Hunger Project-Ethiopia, Wurib Epicenter has invested a significant amount of resources aimed at improving the community’s living conditions and access to education. Mikaelo now has a toilet for girls and boys and clean water.
Rukia is optimistic about the work being done to address the basic needs of water, sanitation and hygiene in Wurib. She claims the support of organizations like The Hunger Project make progress achievable.
Tasly was born in 1976 in the Baroidanga village of Satgambug Union in Bangladesh. Despite her limited means, she was very successful in school and received a Higher Secondary Certificate (high school). She dreamed of completing higher education, but was soon married off by her family. Her educational aspirations were no longer in her control. During her second year of marriage, she gave birth to a baby girl. Unable to pay the dowry being asked of her, Tasly returned to her father’s house with great sorrow. She began giving private tutoring lessons as a way to support her new life with her daughter.
In 2008, The Hunger Project-Bangladesh arranged an Animator Training on microfinance near Tasly’s village. After attending the training, she and 25 other women formed a cooperative society, named “Dahuk Women Savings Samity,” to keep track of their individual savings. During weekly meetings, they discussed social and community issues like early marriage, dowry, antenatal care, postnatal care and compulsory primary education. Over time, their cooperative’s savings has increased to 100,000 taka (US $1,285). With these savings, they offer loans to other village women for different kinds of income-generating activities like fishing, tailoring, goat and cow farming. Each cooperative member averages an income of 2,000 taka (US $25) per month.
Tasly has embraced her role as an active leader in her community. In 2012, Tasly and 18 other women attended the Women Leader Foundation Course, a training arranged by The Hunger Project-Bangladesh. After completing the course, Tasly attended monthly follow-up meetings arranged by The Hunger Project to bring new social development initiatives to her village. These initiatives ranged from sanitation practices, planting trees, birth registration, enrolling children in school, and prevention of early marriage. In that same year, a Women’s Network was formed in the union of Satgumbuj and Tasly was elected as the general secretary of the committee. She was also elected as a member of Patorpara Primary School’s managing committee and Satgumbuj Union Parishad’s committee of educational affairs. Under Tasly’s leadership, a women’s organization was formed in each ward.
Currently, Tasly works for a local NGO named Gonobidaloy. Her journey is a prime example of the importance of economically empowering women and letting them play a central role in shaping their community.
Ibrahim Mariama is a resident of Daringa and a vibrant member of The Hunger Project’s Microfinance Program in Benin. As a wife and mother of three children, she sells rice paste to support her family.
As an active member of The Hunger Project’s Microfinance group, she walks us through her impressions and journey.
"Before my loan with the The Hunger Project, I was on a strict repayment installment plan. As soon I sold food, I had to immediately pay back my loan. It was an unprofitable cycle and kept me from meeting my family’s daily needs.
One day, I visited the epicenter to learn about The Hunger Project’s program. Following a training, I was eligible for a $45 loan. This allowed me to consistently have more operating capital. I can now order a bag of rice and five liters of palm oil, at least. On three days’ take, I reinvest two of them and consider the third day’s take my income. This structure allows me to provide food for my children, contribute to my community, and help my husband. Today I feel he respects me more and trusts me to have a say on important decisions about the future of our children.”
Ibrahim also believes the loan has helped strengthen her relationships with other women in her group. They often discuss different strategies they can implement to repay their loans on time:
“In order to always repay our loan on the due date, we created a cashbox where we contribute a fixed amount of $8 every month during meetings. This removes a lot of the pressure.”
In addition to her own personal growth, Ibrahim sees how her group’s dynamics has influenced and motivated other women. She feels hopeful about her future and the ongoing development in her community.
"More women are looking to organize a group in order to obtain credit to finance and strengthen their business activities. We sincerely hope that this goes on.”