Issues: Poverty

Jaldu MFP Partner with Sheep IGA.JPG

Approximately 1.3 billion people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day or less. Between 1990 and 2008, efforts to reduce this number were highly successful and the amount of people living in poverty decreased by nearly half, from 48 to 26 percent. But according to the latest United Nations reports food prices are back on the rise, causing an increase in global poverty for the first time in nearly two decades.

Poverty, food prices and hunger are inextricably linked. Poverty causes hunger. Not every poor person is hungry, but almost all hungry people are poor. Millions live with hunger and malnourishment because they simply cannot afford to buy enough food, cannot afford nutritious foods or cannot afford the farming supplies they need to grow enough good food of their own [1]. Hunger can be viewed as a dimension of extreme poverty. It is often called the most severe and critical manifestation of poverty.

Rural households are the most heavily burdened by the consequences of poverty and hunger. In addition to causing hunger, poverty limits a rural community’s ability to invest in its own development. Over 30 percent of rural girls living in poverty are kept out of school to save money, opposed to the 15 percent of urban girls not in school. Studies have shown that lack of general education leads to higher adolescent birth rates; births that in turn over-burden an already economically strained community, perpetuating a cycle of gender inequality, poverty and hunger.

Recognizing the urgency of this issue, world leaders have made poverty a top priority as a part of Millennium Development Goal 1.

The Hunger Project (THP) takes a holistic approach to hunger, which means addressing its root causes – including poverty. In THP Program Countries, we build the capacity of women and men to move beyond poverty, training them in the skills, methods, knowledge and leadership needed to take self-reliant actions so they can meet their own basic needs, improve their communities and build better futures for themselves and their children.

What We Do

  • At our epicenters across Africa, thousands of women food farmers are increasing their incomes through training and credit, and strengthening their clout in the marketplace. Over 45,000 women and men participate in our Microfinance Program, and in 2011, they deposited more than $1.6 million in savings in epicenter Rural Banks and revolving loan funds.
  • The ultimate objective of THP's Microfinance Program is to gain government recognition and operate as a licensed saving and credit cooperative (SACCO) or Rural Bank. Owned entirely by community members, the Rural Bank then provides the entire epicenter community with sustainable access to savings and loan facilities. There are now 22 Rural Banks that have gained government recognition at our epicenters in Africa.
  • Trained THP partners implement income-generating activities, often joining together in self-help groups: from sewing projects in Mexico to cow-fattening projects in Bangladesh. In 2010, 12,341 of our African partners participated in income-generating workshops to learn new and innovative methods of increasing household income.
  • In Africa, THP empowers people to create, stock and manage their own food banks at the community level, which helps stabilize day-to-day food prices in local markets during times of crisis. In 2010 alone, community members stocked 482,040 kgs of grains in their food banks across Africa.
  • Through agricultural trainings and increased access to farming inputs, small farmers in THP communities are able to increase their crop yields, enabling them to grow enough food to feed their families, diversify their crops and even sell surpluses at market.
  • In Burkina Faso and Senegal, a warrantage program allows farmers to not only contribute their share, but also to store their excess harvest in the epicenter food bank until market conditions shift. As a result, farmers can sell their produce for higher prices.

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More Resources


1. Pinstrup-Anderson, Per. “Still Hungry.” Scientific American Special Issue. Sept 2007.