Gender-focused, community-led development in rural Africa: The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy

Gender-focused, community-led development in rural Africa: The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy

The Hunger Project is a global, non-profit organisation committed to the sustainable end to world hunger. For the last twenty years, they have been supporting the implementation of the African created and led Epicenter Strategy, which has proven to be an effective, affordable, and replicable strategy that has helped to mobilise nearly 2000 communities into 123 community hubs known as ‘epicenters’. Around 1.6 million Africans are estimated to have benefited from the strategy, and in 2014 alone, nearly 46,000 people were trained in nutrition, more than 850,000 kilos of food was stored, and 3,665 children enrolled in Epicenter-based schools. This brief outlines the Epicenter Strategy, draws on experiences to provide lessons learned, and advocates the wider importance of community inclusion and women’s empowerment in sustainable development.

 

The opening section of the brief describes what the Epicenter Strategy consists of, namely four distinct phases: the mobilisation of communities through workshops, and the establishment of networks between communities, and with local government; the community-led construction of an L-shaped Epicenter building, complete with food bank, meeting hall, public latrines, clean water, and a health centre; the commencement of work to address the needs of the community in health and nutrition, education, food security, microfinance, women’s empowerment, advocacy and alliance building, and the environment; and lastly, a two-year transition period where monitoring remains in  place, but the centre is facilitated in becoming self-sufficient and sustainable.

 

A case study is presented in the words of Dina Amartey, who joined The Hunger Project’s women’s empowerment programme and went on to become a trained animator in Ghana. Dina benefited hugely from the meetings and activities, learning how to be more independent, and developing a vision. The brief goes on to discuss the work of The Hunger Project in empowering communities in: leveraging the resources of local government; sustainable food and nutrition security; education and adult literacy; health and disease prevention; water, sanitation, and hygiene; enterprise and youth development; establishing global partnerships; and measuring self-reliance.

 

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