The Hunger Project is a nontraditional, strategic, catalytic organization committed to the END OF PERSISTENT, CHRONIC WORLD HUNGER. It aims at creating a future that rejects the inevitability of hunger – not by providing direct relief that deal with just the periphery of the problem; rather by addressing the underlying social conditions that systematically deny hungry people the opportunity they need to end their own hunger. The Hunger Project invests in people’s productivity, mobilizes people in self-reliance; empowers women to have a voice in the decisions affecting their lives; and elicits committed local leadership for grassroots action to succeed.
Hunger Project: In-Action
The Hunger Project is active in the following countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands. New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States.
Hunger Project: The Funding
The Hunger Project is funded almost entirely by committed individuals who stand as co-equal partners with hungry people in the work of ending hunger. The return on investment is immediate and lasting – the joy and satisfaction of using ones resource for benefiting humanity.
The Hunger Project: India Program
We at THP believe a world Tree from hunger’ will come to fruition only when every woman, man and child has equal opportunity to health, education, nutrition, livelihood and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. The Hunger Project is committed to addressing subjugation of women, exploitation of tribals, lack of access and control over productive assets, and domination of decision making by a few.
The Hunger Project India has chosen as its pathway) the strengthening of women’s leadership in Panchayats.
The 73rd amendment of the Constitution by reserving l/3rd seats for women in the village panchayats has politically empowered I Million women all over the country. Our work in past four years with these elected women has unearthed the fact that when women gain voices in the processes that affect their lives and the lives of those who are at the lowest, it is the elected women who shoulder the responsibility of taking their communities forward on the path of economic and social justice. Elected trained women also address social conditions, which have systematically hindered and undermined the roles of these women and have deninied them opportunities of participation in public life. The Hunger Project recognizes and seeks to address these conditions by advocating and undertaking initiatives that can lead to the effective functioning of Panchayats such that they serve as appropriate sustainable institutions for addressing issues of hunger that confront millions each day.
THP India currently has program interventions in 14 States, viz., Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Kamataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttranchal and Uttar Pradesh. Apart from Assam & Arunachal Pradesh, where THP is working directly with communities and women leaders, most of our work is being implemented in partnership with a network of 49 local level NGOs across the Country.
THP’s work continues to be supported by nearly 5000 individual investors worldwide, who share our vision. Over the last year, in addition to support from bilateral donor organizations such as DANIDA, and SDC, THP also received a grant from the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India.
Our Strategy in India
South Asia is a region with abundant food, yet it has the highest rates of child-hood malnutrition in the world – twice as high as Africa. The reason : women and girls in South Asia suffer a lifetime of subjugation.
A historic amendment to India’s constitution in the 1990s provides an opportunity to transform this condition. The 73rd amendment requires that one-third of all seats in village councils (panchayats) must be held by women. Women – most of whom have been denied health, education and nutrition all their lives — suddenly have a seat at the table. Each five-year term, five million women run for elections, and more than one million are elected – more than all the elected women in all the other countries in the world.
As women come to power, they shift the agenda toward health, education and nutrition. They become role models – winning the respect of men and building confidence in other women.
The Hunger Project is seizing this opportunity with a four- pronged strategy:
> Capacity – building of elected women representatives, through a Women’s Leadership Workshop, follow-up workshops and skills trainings.
> Making panchayats effective, by mobilizing greater public partipation in public meetings.
> Influencing public opinion in support of women’s leadership, including action to mobilize the power of the media.
> Building alliance at the local, state and national levels, to change policies in order to strengthen local democracy and women’s leadership.
Some Views Expressed in the Country Director Ms Ritu Sarin’s Statement in the Annual Report of THP for the year 2003-04
We all are convinced that decentralization is critical for creating spaces for people’s voice. We also realize that the challenges facing the rural India can never l)e solved by top-down bureaucratic interventions. The needs of communities in health, sanitation, clean water, education, family planning and income can only be met locally through local responsibility and local accountability.
This is where the 73rd amendment is potentially revolutionary; and mandates that resources, responsibility and power (funds, functions and functionaries) be moved from the state government to the district, block and village level – where decisions that are truly appropriate to people’s own desires and opportunities, can be made. Hence, Panchayats (village councils) make possible a social and economic revitalization of rural India, and play role in providing better health, more education and better income through implementation of development programs. Panchayats today have journeyed from an informal institution rooted in tradition to a formal institution with constitutional status, and hold the promise to uplift the entire nation.
THP has trained more than 20,000 women leaders with the help of its partners. And the trained women leaders struggle with this dissonance.
They have a vision for how they would like their Panchayat to be. In many cases there are micro plans that are ready for being implemented. But there are no funds. There are few functionaries.
Despite the above hurdles and insensitive policies The Hunger Project has in the past four years witnessed a revolution in women’s leadership and the potential it holds for the end of hunger. With each program activity that takes place in India, we witness yet another unfolding of the human spirit.
As a part of olir campaign. The Hunger Project is calling forth village elders. Government officials, journalists, NGOs and international agencies to create a broad-based movement for a new future for India, a new future that is promised by the 73rd and 74th amendment; but it is a promise that still remains to be fulfilled.
Strengthening Women’s Leadership
One of our key strategies is to strengthen women’s leadership in Panchayats by building up the self-confidence and morale of elected women representatives and equipping them with information, skills and tools that will help them be more effective. This is being done through the medium of Women’s Leadership workshops and follow-up sessions. Designed by THP, these workshops are conducted by a large cadre of trainers built up over the years by THP, thorough periodic Training of Trainers programmes.
Making Panchayats Effective
THP has designed interventions to work with and support the Gram Sabhas in becoming more active and in being able to support the panchayat leaders and also to hold the functionaries accountable. The primary emphasis again is on the increased participation of women in the Gram Sabha.
To facilitate the broader participation of women, representatives of self-help groups or women with a leadership potential are identified and provided with support through workshops. In some cases, women are identified at the ward level and supported to serve catalysts in their own communities.
THP has supported PRESS (Panchayati Raj Sahyogi Sangh), a network of 26 organizations, from Udaipur and Rajsamund, who came together to work on strengthening the Panchayats through peoples’ participation. The network covers 49 panchayats. A set of key individuals in each ward of the Panchayat are identified and trained to create a “Jagruk Manch” (forum of awareness).
Influencing Public Opinion
THP has been able to undertake significant work with the media and is beginning to take a lead on other policy issues as well.
The Hunger Project works actively with the media to focus ongoing attention on the importance of Panchayati Raj, the building of local democracy and the leadership of women therein. Media persons, writers and journalists, are encouraged through a series of interactions with social activists and the women leader themselves, about the need to give space to issues of women’s leadership in PRIs. A total of 344 media persons participated in 15 such workshops over eight different states.
The Hunger Project Global Office
12 East 26th Street, New York, NY10010
The Hunger Project Country Office
The Hunger India Office
Saheed Bhavan – 2nd floor, 18/1 Aruna Sasaf Ali Marg
Qutub Inst. Area, New Delhi 110 067
Telephone : 011 – 51688847 – 52
The Hunger Project State Offices
A-450 Mansarover Colony, Shahpura, Bhopal – 462016
Tarini Mandir Road, Bhavanipatna – 766001, District: Kalahandi, Orissa
Mehman Sarai, First Floor, (Behind Imarat Rizvi), Bank Road, Patna – 800001
Gandhigram Rural Institute Deemed University, District: Dindigul Gandhigram-624302
C-388, first floor, Setu Path, Malviya Nagar, Jaipur-302017
203 Sarap Building, Opposite Navjivan Press, Off Ashram Road, Ahmedabad – 380014
C/o Azim Premji Foundation
Third floor, Wipro Centre, 5 Papanna Street, St. Marks
Road Cross, Bangalore – 560001
C/o Swayam Shikshan Prayog, C.V.O.D.
Jain high School, 84 Samuel Street Dongri, Mumbai – 400 009
Satgaon Na-para, Near Masjid,
Guwahati – 781037, Assam
Bank Tiniali, Eastern Press House Building, Itanagar – 791 111, Arunachal Pradesh