Achieving Its Targets for Self-Reliance: Atuobikrom Epicenter

Atuobikrom Epicenter_edited

The Atuobikrom Epicenter building.

Throughout Africa, The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy mobilizes the population of a cluster of villages within a 10km radius to create an “epicenter,” or a dynamic center where communities are mobilized for action to meet their basic needs. Through this fully integrated community-led development strategy, community members establish and manage their own programs to address areas such as gender equality, food security, nutrition, health, education, microfinance, water and sanitation. 

Atuobikrom Epicenter serves 11 villages with a total population of 7,138 women, men and children in the Kwahu South district in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The Eastern Region is the sixth largest region of the country with a population of  2.1 million. Out of 26 districts in the region, 11 have poverty rates higher than the regional average of 22%. Kwahu South district has poverty rates between 40 and 49%. 

The Hunger Project began its partnership in Atuobikrom Epicenter in 2000, and as of the end of 2015, Atuobikrom Epicenter achieved the targets it set for self-reliance. This means that community members have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development, as evidenced by the presence of:

  1. Mobilized rural communities that continuously set and achieve their own development goals;
  2. Empowered women and girls in rural communities;
  3. Improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural communities;
  4. Improved literacy and education in rural communities;
  5. Reduced prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in rural communities, especially for women and children;
  6. Improved access to and use of health resources in rural communities;
  7. Reduced incidence of poverty in rural communities; and
  8. Improved land productivity and climate resilience of smallholder farmers.

Targets set through The Hunger Project’s robust Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation methodology empower community members to be drivers of their own change, identifying concrete objectives that are transparently tracked. These targets are tracked through quarterly data collection, evaluation studies that include household surveys, and annual operational assessments (“snapshots”), which together serve to provide an understanding of the community’s progress towards self-reliance.

As a self-reliant epicenter, the community members of Atuobikrom Epicenter have affirmed multiple local partnerships, created funding streams from revenue-generating activities and established gender-balanced leadership structures to support sustainable growth.

A Closer Look at Atuobikrom

Atuobikrom Epicenter is legally recognized as a community based organization, has democratic operations led by an elected epicenter committee, a land deed and meeting hall. Atuobikrom Epicenter has four income-generating activities–charging rental fees for meeting space, agro-input sales, crop sales and nursery plant sales–that  are directly contributing revenue to the epicenter to supportAtuobikrom bakery&wom 403 its own operational costs.

Women make up 57% executive positions on committees.

There is a preschool within the epicenter radius, an operational health unit in the epicenter building and a library, which attracts students from nearby schools.

Atuobikrom Epicenter has a robust and improving Microfinance Program, with an increased savings of 75% in the third quarter of 2015 over the previous quarter. The epicenter’s mobile banking system is also also helping to increase savings.

Epicenter leadership support community partners and program animators in the running of the epicenter activities. In the third quarter of 2015, Vision, Commitment and Action (VCA) Workshops reached nearly 700 community partners.

The epicenter is also focused on improving gender equality and the empowerment of women, with more than a dozen educational session conducted in late 2015, raising awareness about civic, legal, political, sexual and reproductive health rights of women. In addition, issues such as children’s rights, women’s rights, leadership skills, marriage, prevention of HIV/AIDS, menopause, domestic violence, childcare, and family planning were addressed during these educational sessions.

 

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The Epicenter Strategy in Africa