Achieving Its Targets for Self-Reliance: Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter
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.
Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter serves 20 villages (after merging with the villages of Adensua Besease Epicenter) with a total population of 29,354 women, men and children in the Kwahu West 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%. The Kwahu West district has poverty rates below 10%.
The Hunger Project began its partnership in 2000, and as of the end of 2015, Nsuta-Aweregya 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:
- Mobilized rural communities that continuously set and achieve their own development goals;
- Empowered women and girls in rural communities;
- Improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural communities;
- Improved literacy and education in rural communities;
- Reduced prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in rural communities, especially for women and children;
- Improved access to and use of health resources in rural communities;
- Reduced incidence of poverty in rural communities; and
- 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 Nsuta-Aweregya 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 Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter
Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter is legally recognized community-based organization, has democratic operations led by an elected epicenter committee, a land deed and meeting hall. Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter has three income-generating activities–charging rental fees for meeting space, agro-input sales, and loan interest from the Microfinance Program. These activities are directly contributing revenue to the epicenter to support its own costs.
Women make up 57% executive positions on committees.
There is a preschool, an operational health unit and a library in the epicenter.
The community is working to generate increased income for the epicenter with an epicenter farm to cultivate plantains and vegetables.
Mobilizing communities into self-reliant action through the Vision, Commitment and Action (VCA) Workshops has created a communal spirit towards addressing the needs of communities in Nsuta-Aweregya Epicenter. Community mobilization efforts at the epicenter have been focused on supporting epicenter leadership in preparation for graduation and mobilizing resources to continue work on community-initiated projects.
The communities at the epicenter have also been working to improve gender equality and the empowerment of women, with more than a dozen educational session conducted in late 2015. Community members noted that with estate education, surviving female spouses and children are decreasingly driven away from houses of their deceased husbands; parents are increasingly sharing household chores among boys and girls. Teenage pregnancy reduction has also been noted among communities as a result of increased access to and education on family planning.
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