The Hunger Project was founded in 1977, in the wake of the rising debate on world hunger triggered by the first Rome World Food Conference.
Rather than simply being another relief organization, The Hunger Project was created as a strategic organization. Over the years, The Hunger Project has reinvented itself time and again to meet each challenge along the path of ending hunger.
Global Will and Commitment, 1977-1989. The Hunger Project carried out the world’s largest public education and advocacy campaign on the issue of hunger, designed to mobilize a global constituency committed to the end of hunger.
Aligning the hunger response community, 1979-1986. The Hunger Project played a catalytic role in mobilizing international support to stop famines in Cambodia (1979), Somalia (1980) and the entire African continent (1983-85). It was instrumental in the formation of InterAction – the coalition of US-based international relief and development organizations.
Committed leadership in Africa, 1987… After the 1985 famine, it was clear that Africa lacks sufficient leadership committed to the wellbeing of its people. To address this, The Hunger Project launched the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1987.
Effective action at the grassroots, 1990… Typical top-down and charitable responses to hunger have proven too inefficient and inflexible to meet the challenge of hunger. In 1990, with the Planning Commission of India, The Hunger Project pioneered a new, decentralized, holistic, people-centered approach known as Strategic Planning in Action (SPIA). About 21,000 villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America have applied SPIA to empower people to achieve lasting improvements in health, education, nutrition and family income.
African Woman Food Farmer Initiative, 1999… Women grow the majority of food for household consumption in Africa, yet have been almost completely bypassed by official efforts to improve food production. The Hunger Project launched a new initiative to (a) develop and demonstrate an effective large-scale program of training and credit to economically empower tens of thousands of African women food farmers and (b) awaken policy makers to the fact that Africa’s future depends on the future of Africa’s women food farmers through a massive advocacy campaign.
Women and Local Democracy, 2000… Experts have shown that South Asia has the highest rates of childhood malnutrition because its women suffer the worst subjugation. New laws in India and Bangladesh, guaranteeing grassroots women seats in local government, present a unique opportunity to transform this age-old condition. In 2000, The Hunger Project launched an initiative which has provided leadership training to about 78,000 elected women, builds networks of ongoing support, and mobilizes the media for public support.
AIDS and Gender, 2001… AIDS is setting back decades of progress in Africa, and is out of control largely because women lack the power to protect themselves. In 2003, The Hunger Project launched a campaign based on the “AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshop” to empower people at the grassroots level to protect themselves and alter behaviors that drive the spread of the disease. The campaign has trained more than 1.1 million people.
Focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 2004… Founding President of The Hunger Project, Joan Holmes, was appointed to serve on the United Nations Millennium Project Hunger Task Force. The Hunger Project seized the opportunity of unprecedented worldwide attention on issues of hunger and poverty to play a leadership role for the MDGs and highlight gender as a priority. We launched a campaign of education and advocacy designed to transform the way the world does development and have the world community recognize that bottom-up, gender-focused strategies are the only viable pathway to achieving the MDGs on a sustainable basis. We worked with our Country Directors to reexamine our programs to ensure they were at the cutting edge of strategic action to achieve the MDGs.
Setting Our Strategic Direction, 2009…At the G8 Summit in July 2009, world leaders made an unparalleled financial commitment to end world hunger and there was a growing shift in development thinking toward long-term, sustainable approaches that acknowledge women as key to the process. In this new climate, The Hunger Project’s designed a strategic direction to expand our scope via three key priorities: partnerships, advocacy, and impact.