The Hunger Project (THP) is an organization that started in 1977 as a response to the United Nation's first World Food conference of 1974 (source1.). This conference sought to coordinate the ministries of agriculture across the developing world to increase food security (source2.). The original mission statement of the THP was simply to eliminate global hunger. Since then the organization has expanded its mission to included education, sustainable community building, and elevating the status of women. The organization describes itself as being “A strategic organization which has continually reinvented itself along the road to ending hunger”. THP puts particular emphasis on grass roots development programs, wherein they work directly with communities to help them achieve their goals of financial/food security. Rather than prescribing development practices, grass roots campaigns attempt to utilize indigenous knowledge and skill in the creation of their own projects (source1.). This was emphasized by Jim Whitton, one of the organizations regional directors when he said "A dangerous and patronizing cliché we often hear is, 'Give a man a fish and feed him for a day -- teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.' People living with chronic hunger have generations of wisdom about 'fishing' -- the problem is the barbed wire around the lake." (source3.) The organization currently operates in 11 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Though originally based out of California, THP now has it's head quarters in New York City (source1.).
Various Programs[edit | edit source]
African Woman Food Farmer Initiative
The African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI), is a micro-credit operation which is seemingly modeled after the Grameen Bank (see Grameen Banks website ). This means that the female farmers form/join borrowing groups which take out small cash loans from THP. The loans on average are only about $60 US dollars. The loans are small because these women are usually only seeking to start very small business’s, or improve their farms, and thus they don’t need much to get started (source4.). It is simply a way of getting a small amount of cash into the hands of people who would be rejected by conventional lending institutions. Before attaining this credit however, the women must attend a workshop wherein they learn basic business/saving skills, and receive an introduction to how credit works.To date this program has lent out $2.6 million to over 45,000 women. The program has 28 banks located across Africa (source5.). Micro credit has been widespread and often championed in development since the formation of the Grameen Bank. However, there are critiques to this system which cite it as a negative for poor women as it forces them into debt, and may disrupt traditional hierarchies and social institutions (see book review on Lamia Karims Micro-Finance and its Discontents ).
Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End to Hunger
This is a program which seeks to recognize African leaders who have had a dramatic and lasting impact on; increasing education, the alleviation of hunger, the empowerment of women, and sustainable community development. (source6 pg.93). The program started in 1987, and honors African leaders from all ends of the spectrum, from scientists to educators, to community activists. The award also comes with a $100,000 cash prize. The most recent recipient of the Award is Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Liberia's Minister of Agriculture, and the first woman to hold that title in Africa (source7.)(source8.). Programs like this are important for the global image of Africa. Africa has been so mired in conflict and poverty that those are often the only things which get international attention. It is not often that people stop to recognize all the positive steps forward that African leaders have taken, which is exactly what this award seeks to acknowledge.
Work Towards The Millennium Development Goals
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) are a set of eight goals that 188 countries have set to accomplish by 2015. These goals are; 1) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2) to achieve universal primary education, 3) to promote gender equality and empower women, 4) reduce child mortality, 5) improve maternal health, 6) combat HIV, AIDS, and malaria, 7) ensure environmental sustainability, and 8) to develop a global partnership for development (Source9.). THP has stated that “they are committed to playing a leadership role for the MDG’s.” (Source10.).
Here is a list of the ways THP has been working toward these goals
Goal 1: THP’s African Woman’s Food Farmer Initiative has increased livelihood for many of Africa's poor.
Goal 2: THP campaigned in Bangladesh to ensure preschool registration, and decrease drop out rates.
Goal 3: THP leadership workshops in India have trained many female elected officials.
Goal 4: THP Set up vaccination centers all over Africa that treat for early childhood diseases.
Goal 5: THP programs like the AWFFI, which seek to empower women.
Goal 6: THP has set up anti-retroviral therapy and outreach clinics in Malawi, were patients can obtain medication and information about HIV/AIDS.
Goal 7: THP has set up training workshops for rural women to learn how to cope with climate change in Africa and India.
Goal 8: THP works with local governments, communities, as well as other international aid agencies. (Source10.)
Various Policies[edit | edit source]
As with any organization the Hunger Project has policies in place in order to maintain a strict standard when providing help around the world. External links to these policies follow:(Source 11.)
References[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
(For a valuable critique on foreign aid to Africa, and a critique on the Western model of development in general, see Dambisa Moyo's book Dead Aid; Why Aid is Not Working And How There Is a Better Way For Africa..... here is a brief review for Dead Aid: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.humboldt.edu/stable/pdfplus/40407611.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true Because any sort of aid agency/paradigm should be subject to critique.