Transforming the Way the World Does Development
The Hunger Project (THP) is committed to scaling-up to ensure that all people living in the conditions of hunger gain the opportunity to build lives of self-reliance and dignity. It is both a strategic priority and a moral obligation for THP to bring its on-the-ground experience of what works to the formation of policies and programs that impact the lives of hungry people. Dramatically increasing our policy influence is one of the three strategic priorities in THP's Strategic Direction.
It is important that THP not only be an advocate in policy formation, but also lay the groundwork to be an implementing partner in nation-wide programs to empower women and men to end their own hunger and poverty.
The Policy Environment
Over the past decade since the world community set the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there have been enormous shifts in how the world thinks about aid effectiveness, in particular, a shift, in the words of US President Obama, "from patronage to partnership." Donor countries want to direct aid in support of country-led strategies -- strategies that represent the authentic and demonstrable commitment of the people and government of the country receiving the aid, as well as a shared commitment to accountability, effectiveness and transparency.
How We Advocate
THP works directly and in federations with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to ensure that the experience and reality of people living in conditions of hunger and poverty are reflected as strongly as possible in the formulation of policies by governments and intergovernmental agencies.
Government agencies are increasingly mandated to include the voice of CSOs - to give us a "seat at the table" both as individual organizations and through federations of organizations such as InterAction. THP seizes that opportunity, analyzing and working to influence policies through the lens of our three-pillar methodology for integrated rural development, by considering the following questions:
- Mobilizing people for self-reliance: Will the policy, to paraphrase the words of Mahatma Gandhi, restore hungry people to control over their own lives and destiny? Does it build their capacity for self-reliance, or create dependency?
- Empowering women as change agents: Does the policy recognize that women are the key actors in development, or does it merely treat them as victims? Is it likely to even reach them? Has the policy really analyzed the gender-based barriers to progress, and designed specific interventions to overcome those barriers? Are budgets and monitoring systems designed to disaggregate resources going to women and men, so that we will know if it is working?
- Forging effective partnerships with local government: Will the policy move resources and decision making down to the grassroots level - where people can hold their government to account - or will it all be controlled from the capital city? Will it guarantee that women have a major voice in decision making, and that there are regular mechanisms for local accountability?
These three pillars must come together in an integrated approach to achieving the MDGs: Is the policy trying to intervene in just one aspect of poverty in isolation, or is it taking a comprehensive approach? Our experience has shown that all aspects of rural poverty - nutrition, health, education, environment, food production, microfinance - are inextricably linked and only by solving them all at once can any one of them be solved.
Priority Policy Areas
THP focuses its energies in four policy areas relevant to achieving the MDGs.
Food and Nutrition Security
The 2008 world food price crisis and global financial crisis have made food security a top priority, as reflected in the US$20 billion commitment made by the G8 and other countries in L'Aquila, Italy in July 2009. Given our extensive experience in food security in Africa, THP has been a leading voice in the policy dialogue, particularly in reminding policy makers that it is women who grow the food and that, in the words of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, there will only be a green revolution in Africa if it is also a gender revolution. Food security is closely tied to climate change, and we press to ensure that policies build the capacity of grassroots people to adapt and mitigate the impact of climate change on their communities.
Comprehensive, Women-centered Approaches to Healthcare
In recent years, important steps have been made to bring HIV/AIDS treatment to impoverished people, yet not as much has been done to address child and maternal health and nutrition, issues that result in far more deaths. THP has extensive experience worldwide in empowering rural communities to establish comprehensive, women-centered solutions to improving health.
Aid EffectivenessTHP strongly supports, and our own programs embody, the principle of country-led strategies. Yet, developing country governments often have a poor track record of giving priority to gender issues, strengthening local civil society and decentralizing governance -- all of which are critically important to the effectiveness of development programs. THP works to ensure that the design processes for country-led strategies are mandated to give priority to these issues.
Education for All
As President Obama issued a global call for action on food security and global health, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for a similar global push on education. At its essence, all our work is educational. We integrate adult and primary education, particularly for women and girls, into all our programs. We therefore intend to become increasingly involved in this policy dialogue as it emerges.
What Can You Do?
As a global citizen committed to a world free from hunger and poverty, you can:
- Learn more about the dramatic changes underway in policies to achieve the MDGs, and follow the news on these processes.
- Petition your government. From time to time, THP will notify you of strategic times and ways to make your voice heard.
- Mobilize others to join you in this historic endeavor.
- Support bottom-up, gender-focused strategies that work - invest in THP!