Community Centers for Meeting Basic Needs
The Hunger Project's Epicenter Strategy
The Hunger Project’s (THP’s) Epicenter Strategy unites 5,000 to 15,000 people in a cluster of villages to create an “epicenter,” or a dynamic center where communities are mobilized for action to meet their basic needs. This holistic strategy takes them on a path to sustainable self-reliance through four distinct phases over a period of about eight years. During this time, individuals build the confidence to become leaders of their own development and communities come together to unlock a local capacity for change.
The Hunger Project has mobilized more than 100 epicenter communities in eight countries in Africa.
The Epicenter Strategy is integrated and holistic. It achieves synergy among programs in health (including HIV/AIDS prevention), education, adult literacy, nutrition, improved farming and food security, microfinance, water and sanitation, and building community spirit with a momentum of accomplishment involving the entire population.
It is economically sustainable. The primary resources for the strategy come from the local people themselves and by making existing local government resources more effective. Income generation is built into the strategy from the start. Within five to eight years, our epicenters require little or no financial support from The Hunger Project. They are entirely self-reliant.
The Epicenter Strategy is environmentally sustainable. People at our epicenters learn composting and small-scale, environmentally sound irrigation technologies such as drip irrigation.
In September 2005, The Hunger Project began an ambitious initiative: to demonstrate that the Epicenter Strategy can be taken to full national scale. We have undertaken our first scale up program in Ghana. Learn more about this initiative.
The results of the Epicenter Strategy are displayed in the below table:
|Before launching the epicenter strategy||After the epicenter reaches self-reliance|
|People often live in dependency and resignation, with almost no hope for a better future.||People are successful agents of their own development: motivated, confident, improving life every day.|
|People live in isolated small villages, divided by rivalries.||People work together as a community that is large enough to be a viable economic unit. Leadership is established.|
|Women are the poorest, work the hardest, and have no voice in society.||Women have equal leadership with men, and are key economic players in society. Many women run for local office and are elected.|
|There is no opportunity for women to become literate.||All women participating in the credit program must enroll in literacy and numeracy courses.|
|Government programs never reach the people living in remote, isolated villages.||The community has the confidence and strength in numbers to successfully demand services, such as roads and electricity.|
|People are poorly nourished, eating one meal per day and suffering seasonal hunger.||People are adequately and well-nourished, and successfully manage their own food security through the community food bank.|
|Farmers raise a staple subsistence crop.||Farming is diversified, improved and successful in the marketplace. People are cultivating vegetables and fish, and raising poultry and livestock.|
|The majority of children are not in school, particularly girls.||Both girls and boys attend pre- and primary schools near their homes. There is a library filled with books.|
|People have no health care. Infant and maternal mortality rates (IMR and MMR) are tragically high.||People have reliable health care. The MMR and IMR drop dramatically.|
|Fueled by gender inequality, HIV/AIDS is out of control.||Both women and men are halting dangerous practices that spread HIV/AIDS.|
|Any cash that people have is idle.||Through the bank, savings are mobilized as investment capital for community enterprises.|
|Men often migrate to the cities to find cash employment.||There is a vibrant rural economy. Men begin returning to the community.|