Bangladesh has been called one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
How does that affect a poor rural family?
The people at the top, siphon off much of the Bangladeshi governmental money. It winds up not getting to the poorest of the poor. It doesn't do the things it's been budgeted for: to improve water, roads, health and education.
What is The Hunger Project doing to change that?
We implement key interventions to create leadership at the local, village level. This level is big enough to give voice and demand government support, yet small enough so that people know their leaders and can hold them accountable.
Bottom-up and Top-down Advocacy
Issues of primary education and health care, family income, nutrition, water and sanitation can only be solved at the local level.
The Hunger Project has catalysed the creation of a bottom-up advocacy movement made up of elected UP (Union Parishad—local government) representatives, who press the central government to shift more resources and decision-making power down to the local level.
At the same time, The Hunger Project has also catalysed a top-down advocacy movement of highly respected and influential people, including former government officials and representatives of the media and academia. Called Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN), this organisation works at both the national and district levels to press for policy reform to reduce corruption and strengthen local democracy.
How else has the corruption affected people?
As you can imagine, corruption and poverty has bred a deep cynicism and resignation.
What Is The Hunger Project doing to improve that?
Transforming this condition is the foundation of our work. We pioneered a methodology to shift this mindset, called Vision, Commitment and Action. This enables villagers to create their own vision—to set their own priorities for a healthy future and achieve them through their own efforts. In order to accomplish this, trained local volunteers, or Animators, work to educate, inspire and motivate their fellow-villagers.
In each village-cluster we train a critical mass of 150 Animators. Animators are highly trained local volunteers. An intensive four-day Animator training deeply grounds participants in the principles of gender equality and self-reliant development.
Animators meet monthly in their area, and more than 10,000 gather each year to exchange strategies.
In addition to the 150,000 Animators, we also have trained 103,000 college-age and secondary school-age women and men to work toward improving education and food supply through young farmer cooperatives.