Our programs in South Asia address the three critical elements for the sustainable end of hunger: mobilizing grassroots people to build self-reliance, empowering women as the key agents of change and forging partnerships with local government.
In India, this is done through one comprehensive strategy: the Panchayati Raj Campaign, which strengthens the role of elected women representatives so they are able to assert their rights and build a future free of hunger, poverty and injustice.
In Bangladesh, The Hunger Project's programs addressing our three pillars are, in large part, carried out by the more than 260,000 volunteer animators (or village leaders) and youth leaders whom we have trained to tackle issues of hunger and poverty.
A Critical Step in South Asia: Breaking the Cycle of Malnutrition
South Asia has the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world, twice as high as sub-Saharan Africa. Why are these rates so high, in a region that produces surplus food?
The one reason, according to top nutritionists, is the region's severe subjugation of women. This subjugation gives rise to a deadly cycle of malnutrition.
- A girl in India and Bangladesh is born underweight and malnourished. She is nursed less and fed less nutritious food than her brother. She is often denied health care and education.
- She is forced to work, even as a child. Her work burden increases significantly as she gets older even when she is pregnant. She is married and pregnant when she is young, often just a teenager.
- She is underweight and malnourished when she gives birth to her children, who are born underweight and malnourished. And the cycle continues.
The Hunger Project is seizing a historic opportunity to change these conditions. Developments in the laws of India and Bangladesh guarantee women a voice in local democracy, a profound breakthrough in the position of women in rural society.