News

July updates on the COVID-19 situation in our Program Countries 

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More than 18 months after COVID-19 emerged as a once in a lifetime, worldwide challenge, the pandemic is still an ongoing concern in all our Program Countries across Africa, India and Bangladesh, as well as in our offices in Australia. 

The Hunger Project Australia is in regular communication with our teams on the ground, delivering updates from our communities and Village Partners.  

We strive to share with our community in Australia up-to-date and above all accurate information about the current situation on the village frontlines.  

Africa 

Across the continent, Africa is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19. New weekly cases have now exceeded the peak of the second wave which began in January of this year. While the vaccine rollout did start in some African countries, only 2% of the continent’s adult population has been fully vaccinated. 

To date, 23 countries in Africa are experiencing this surge of COVID cases, including our Program Countries of Uganda, Zambia, Senegal and Malawi. 

Uganda is so far one of the worst-affected countries during this third wave, and they are currently in a national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID. Rural communities are being impacted but it is hard to tell what the full depth of the situation is because testing numbers in rural areas are lower than rates in the cities.  

Zambia has re-introduced COVID-19 restrictions after the rise in daily cases, peaking at over 3,000 cases a day in mid-July. This has included the closure of schools, limits on some public gatherings, and mask-wearing and social distancing on public transport. So far the virus has been contained in the cities and has not reached rural areas; because of this, our Epicentre work can continue with strict COVID-safe measures in place.  

Senegal is one of the more recent countries to begin experiencing the third wave. The team at The Hunger Project Senegal are working remotely now and have been a leading voice in a vaccine-promotion campaign.  

Cases in Malawi have started to increase, and the government has re-introduced restrictions, including a nightly curfew, limits on public gatherings, international border restrictions, mandatory mask-wearing, and restrictions on workplaces.  

Benin is still reporting very few COVID cases and thus far is not experiencing a third wave yet.  

Similarly, cases are still low in Ghana– though there has been a slight daily increase in cases in Ghana over the past couple of weeks.  

South Asia 

India has moved past the peak in cases that was seen in April and May, and COVID-19 case numbers and deaths are now declining. There are still a number of cases and deaths across the country, but the rate of spread has decreased immensely. Vaccination rates are increasing but there are fears of another wave of infections if vaccinations aren’t delivered out into rural areas. 

Bangladesh has unfortunately experienced its own second wave, with cases reaching a high of over 13,000 cases a day in the past week alone. To curb the spread of cases, the country instituted its most strict, military-enforced lockdown, only allowing people to leave their houses for emergencies and to buy essential items, with all public transport, non-essential shops, and offices closed. Lockdown is scheduled to be lifted in time for the country’s second-largest religious festival, Eid al-Adha, which takes place from 20 July – July 22. There are concerns that this could lead to a huge increase in cases. 

You can keep up to date with The Hunger Project on social media or sign up to our email newsletters. You can also give now to The Hunger Project’s work in building stronger communities across Africa, India and Bangladesh.  

The 5 nuggets of gold from our conversation with Ruchi Yadav

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On 22 June, 2021 we recorded an insightful and thought-provoking conversation with THP-India’s Ruchi Yadav. We got so much out of hearing Ruchi share about the harsh realities of life in India right now, and how THP’s unique approach to shifting mindsets and partnering with local leaders is proving successful in protecting the most vulnerable people during the pandemic. 

1. There is a human tragedy unfolding in India in the form of a shadow pandemic hidden behind the health crisis: 9,000 children have lost at least one parent to COVID-19 or have been abandoned, and are at risk of child trafficking, child labour and illegal adoption; hunger levels have increased and are forcing families to make desperate decisions like selling their teenage daughters into marriage for just $270-550; family violence is rife and home is no longer the safe place it’s supposed to be, especially for women and girls; 5 million schools were shut down at one point and girls are not likely to be allowed to return.

2. The Hunger Project doesn’t parachute into communities and then exit; the 8,000 elected women leaders across India currently in our training program are from the communities, live there, and will continue living there long after the pandemic. The elected women are putting into practice what they have learned with The Hunger Project, adopting a ‘solution’ not ‘scarcity’ mindset to be motivated and charged instead of paralysed in the face of this challenge. 

3. “How do we reach the unreachable and make the voices of the invisible, visible?” These are some of the guiding questions that are driving Ruchi Yadav and the THP India team in shaping their strategy to confront new challenges and create long-term solutions in the context of the continuously shifting landscape. 

4. The THP India team is constantly innovating and adapting to changing circumstances and some of their future plans include: delivering remedial classes for girls who have missed out on school; piloting livelihood programs for families dealing with hunger; and finding creative ways to get people vaccinated like bringing the vaccinations door to door on the backs of motorbikes out to the most remote and mountainous areas. This is in addition to their ongoing guiding and mentoring of elected women as frontline workers to share accurate health messages, combat misinformation, run vaccination drives, and lead prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19. 

5. To stay motivated, Ruchi thinks about her future self asking her past self, “During the pandemic, what did I do?”She says what she is doing now – partnering with elected women across India to deal powerfully with the pandemic – is her legacy. 

Take action – Create a COVID-safe future for everyone

 Ruchi said the Australian community is “the wind beneath [THP-India’s] work” so let’s show our support to Ruchi, her team and the elected women leaders – as well as all our staff and village partners across the world – as they navigate the pandemic with strength and persistence to create COVID-resilient communities.  

How? Invest in The Hunger Project’s end of financial year campaign before 30 June or start a conversation with us. [Note: for a limited time you can double your impact thanks to our partner Academy Face and Body, and all donations over $2 are tax-deductible.] 

Don’t forget you can watch the whole webinar now.

 

Empower 550,000 trained local leaders to build COVID-resilient communities

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The second wave of COVID-19 in India is ravaging the ill-equipped rural areas with ferocity and devastating consequences. Leveraging our 20 years of experience in rural India, The Hunger Project is working with our powerful cadre of elected women leaders responsible for 6.4 million people across 1,400 panchayats (local council areas).

THP’s highly trained women leaders in India are already in action:

  • Ensuring people can access the social security schemes to which they are entitled
  • Monitoring the fair distribution of rations from local community centres
  • Supporting widows and orphans through small-scale, local philanthropy
  • Dispelling myths about vaccines and motivating people to get vaccinated
  • Advocating for more COVID health clinics, testing labs and vaccination sites

DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT TODAY: All investments will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000 thanks to the generous partnership of angel investor Academy Face and Body. Simply click on the DOUBLE MY IMPACT button below.

These women and all of the local leaders we work with across the world are the eyes and ears of the realities of local challenges and are in action  organising urgent responses to address the advancing crisis. They live within the community, and will continue to live there long after the pandemic ends; they understand who needs the most support in their villages; and they are trusted to lead by their friends and neighbours.

THP’s local leaders from across the world are pivotal in mitigating the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the communities they serve, especially the most vulnerable. They need our support and partnership right now to build COVID-resilient communities for the future.

COVID-19 and India. In Conversation with THP-India’s Ruchi Yadav

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Although it may seem that COVID-19 in India has momentarily disappeared from our daily news cycle, the country’s enormous challenges haven’t gone away; in fact, beyond the immediate health and economic impacts, the secondary and long-lasting social issues are now coming into clear focus, including rising hunger and poverty, domestic violence, child marriage, trafficking and more.

Join us online on Tuesday 22 June 5.00-6.00pm AEST for real-world insights into the current reality on the ground, THP’s constantly evolving response, and the vision and plan for where to next.  We’ll be in conversation with THP-India’s Ruchi Yadav who has been a fierce and much-admired leader with the organisation for more than 13 years.

You will hear directly from Ruchi about:

Highlighting our partnership with Hey Tiger

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From time to time we shine a spotlight on our incredible partners. Today we are highlighting the delicious and generous Hey Tiger chocolate!

Despite the challenges we all faced across 2020, Hey Tiger’s ongoing commitment to The Hunger Project and the work we’re doing with cocoa farming communities in Ghana remains an inspiration to us.

Together with Hey Tiger customers, their total donation to THP is over $400,000. This incredible investment from Hey Tiger and their community continues to empower the Ehiamankyene (pronounced YEAH-MAN-CHE-NE) community to become agents of their own development and lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

In 2020 alone:

  • Women in the local community have taken up leadership roles through women’s empowerment workshops.
  • Children’s health has been a priority: 734 children were monitored for their weight and nutrition to help prevent malnutrition, 315 children were vaccinated against deadly but preventable diseases and 89 women accessed prenatal services.
  • A local social enterprise has been established by the community and is now up and running, renting out all sorts of items, from marquees and chairs to mattresses and tricycles – the profits from this social enterprise are reinvested back into the community.
  • Knowledge and resources were shared to keep COVID-19 in check including running educational sessions, building handwashing stations, providing 25kg of soap and distributing gloves and masks.

Some messages from our Village Partners in Ghana.

“My children are young. Because of the vision I have for their education, I’ve already started saving for the highest-level education so I can have enough money to support them. Today, I have 700 cedis (190 AUD) already saved in my account.” – Alesia Bua, Ghana

 

“It is my vision that my children will attain the highest level of education and become responsible adults. I owe much gratitude to The Hunger Project for transforming my life.” – Yaw Sekyi, Ehiamankyene community.

Hey Tiger founder Cyan Ta’eed says, “The Hunger Project is an incredible organisation, and I’ve been so impressed with their work. I hope you’ll consider supporting them, especially if you’re passionate about the things that Hey Tiger stands for.”

The Hunger Project Choose to Challenge with Lululemon

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This is an article that Sivanjana Kathiravel, The Hunger Project Australia’s Head of Partnerships, wrote for Lululemon on International Women’s Day on the theme of ‘choose to challenge’. 

You know that feeling when you’re in your flow at yoga? There’s a collective, charged energy in the air; it seems everyone in the room is in sync. Well, I’ve felt that feeling multiplied many times over when I’ve been witness to a group of 40 women in a village in Uganda singing and dancing like nobody’s watching. Being in the presence of such strength, power and resilience as it’s unleashed through moving their bodies is electric! Sadly, despite the outward joy, the reality is that they face harsh and difficult circumstances; most of them are living in chronic hunger, some maybe eating one meal – if that – a day.

This is not the reality I want to live in. It’s easy for us to continue on this path, but that’s not what I choose; I choose to challenge this status quo.

I choose to be part of creating a world free from hunger.

Can you imagine a world without hunger? What does this look like? Is it even possible? It sounds like a big, bold and crazy idea – but that’s the world I’m working towards. The solution to this seemingly huge problem requires the best minds in the world – whether that be the women and men living this reality of hunger every day or anyone, anywhere who shares this exciting vision.

The Hunger Project has proven strategies – that put women front and centre – to unlock people’s potential to lift themselves out of hunger. So it is possible to bring an end to hunger, and surprisingly it’s not actually about food hand-outs!

We have discovered that the most effective way to bring about an end to hunger is by starting with women as changemakers and influencers, and challenging them to go through a process of shifting their mindsets from “I can’t” to “I can” to “we can”. Ultimately, the women then create a vision for their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Their visions are extraordinary: from a current reality of hunger to visions for farming nutritious crops all year round, or starting a new business to support herself financially, or of their children seeing their school education right through to graduation day.

One amazing woman I met in Uganda – Lydia – told me that her vision went beyond herself and her family, and she really wanted to make a difference to her whole community. She started out as a dairy farmer but was not even allowed to speak up in community decision-making meetings – purely because she was a woman – even when these very decisions impacted her dairy farm. Since then, she had embraced The Hunger Project’s mindset shifting process, and now she has been elected as a chief of her community by the King of Uganda! She told me that partnering with The Hunger Project made her a stronger woman – and she reminded me that anyone is capable of tapping into and unlocking their inner leader. “I am now listened to… If I can, you can,” she said.

Sivanjana with Lydia in Uganda.

Now imagine that kind of impact and influence amplified 15.8 million times! That’s the number of people across Africa, India and Bangladesh who are currently partnering with The Hunger Project to lift themselves out of hunger. So is a world free from hunger looking more and more like a possibility for you?

I see my role at The Hunger Project as a conduit of sorts, linking Australians who are itching to make a difference but simply don’t know where to start, together with local leaders in rural, remote villages who are creating innovative, sustainable, grassroots change on a global scale. Finding the perfect match – between an Australian who shares our vision and is excited to invest in our work, and our village partners who are seeking that partnership – is joyous. I feel fulfilled and it gives me peace of mind that I’m playing a small part in this grand vision.

I truly believe that we have so much to learn from people who face the challenge of hunger every day, and who shift from resignation to empowerment to build their personal and community wellbeing.

Every single Aussie dollar invested in our work is testament to the fact that so many Australians already share my belief in the power of people, and my hope for a world free from hunger.

The theme “Choose to Challenge” means many things to me. At a level of humanity, it’s to push back on a common belief that solving some of the world’s biggest social problems is just not possible. But if not us, then who? And if not now, then when?

One way I connect and challenge myself is through the practice of yoga. It has helped me through tough times, giving me both strength and perspective. Rolling out my mat and practicing even for a few hours a week keeps me grounded and is a personal celebration of life and wellbeing. It connects me to the bigger picture and shows me that anything, including ending hunger, is possible.

You can find the original article over on the Lululemon website.

How The Hunger Project Chooses to Challenge

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The Hunger Project Australia is celebrating one of our favourite days on the calendar – International Women’s Day!

This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge” which aligns so beautifully with THP’s work challenging the status quo about what people – particularly women – are capable of when their potential and leadership is unlocked and unleashed.

We invited THP leaders and partners from across Australia and the world to share how they choose to challenge the status quo. This is what they said…

“To me, choosing to challenge the status quo means to rethink the way things are and create an inclusive world. Empowering women to be key change agents is essential to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. So wherever we work, The Hunger Project aims to support women and build their capacity to create brighter possibilities for tomorrow, today.”

“Choosing to challenge the status quo means creating a world of equal rights and opportunities for women who constitute half the planet. Let us commit ourselves to this now till the job is done.”

“We are challenged to bring about positive change and development.”

“The status quo works for no one. Equality means leaving no woman behind.”

“I choose to challenge because we as women leaders need to rise up to the challenges of our community.”

“I choose to challenge the status quo because as a woman I can use my capabilities to support the development of my community.”

“Choosing to challenge the status quo means means creating a more human world of work, where people are focused, calm, resilient, and even happy at work.  Through the mind training work I do with the Potential Project, I’m proud to be making a tangible difference through partnering with THP on their work unlocking and unleashing the leadership of women globally to end hunger. If you care about lifting women up to create more potential, then follow them on socials or better yet make an investment in their work if you can.”

“I choose to challenge because women of Bangladesh are subjugated, marginalised and deprived because of the patriarchy. We men largely represent patriarchy, so when you’re confronting patriarchy we are really fighting with ourselves, and this is what we are engaged in.”

Make an Impact.

The biggest way you can make an impact today is to invest in women who are bringing clean water and electricity to their villages. Invest in a businesswoman who is putting her dreams on the line to bring economic stability to her family. Invest in the women leaders who are standing up against hunger in their communities.

Elected Women on COVID-19 Frontlines in India

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A new report from our partners at The Hunger Project India explores the power of local leadership in a time of crisis, highlighting the need for locally empower women leaders.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasised the need for community-level decision-making and access to accurate information during a public health crisis.

It’s abundantly clear that leadership and governance on a global and local scale are required to confront the spread of a deadly disease. In India, as the global community began to navigate the obstacles a pandemic, the biggest question that arose was: what is needed at the community level?

The solution.

Within the first weeks of lockdown, we partnered with local Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) and village councils to activate a network of more than 8,000 woman leaders to address these new challenges. Communicating accurate information to dispel myths was essential to providing the tools for safety. So, local leaders used their platforms to raise awareness and an understanding of community members’ responsibilities to protect each other against COVID-19 and successful educational campaigns were launched throughout India.

EWRs also worked to ensure access to food rations under the government’s Public Distribution System (PDS) and other government related services that were still open. From Uttarakhand to Karnataka, sewing groups were formed to make face masks using material left over from stitching clothes. Elected women established task forces to monitor ration shops and ensure prepared meals were served and distributed to the most vulnerable families.

Nirmala, Sukhiya, Sita and Anita—members of the Sema Panchayat in Rajasthan—stepped into their leadership and began operating as fundraisers to guarantee access to government resources and funds distributed during COVID-19. They approached individuals and groups and mobilised fund drives to procure sanitisers, essential food items and masks. These local leaders are motivated by compassion and responsibility:

“Our main aim was to provide immediate relief in areas with extremely vulnerable communities where the government hasn’t reached yet. We have been able to support 20 families in distress so far [as of December 2020].”

In Odisha, former elected women were key in undertaking efforts to ensure food security during the lockdown. THP trained local leaders supervised local relief programs that included government support such as 1,000 rupees (AUD$18) for dry rations and an extra 5kg of rations for 3 months. They were also involved with the delivery of lunches to school children and rationing for children and pregnant women.

EWRs are still at the frontline of our pandemic response in India. Their leadership and persistent advocacy was key to ensuring that governmental measures were accessible to all. Together, beyond only India, our global community continues to advocate for basic human needs like food, sanitation and accurate information while addressing long-term issues of gender-based violence, food insecurity and community-led development.

By the numbers.

Our awareness campaign focused on COVID-19 prevention, food security and helpline numbers for children and women. It had a total outreach of over 24,000 people through the Mobile Van Campaign and more than 36 million through the radio messages, covering 17 of the 38 districts in Bihar. Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, we enabled better access to information, reaching 17,800 people via Mobile Van Campaigns and 38 million through radio listenership in all 52 districts.

Read more about our COVID-19 response around the world.

Read the full report from The Hunger Project India.

You helped us raise $126,690 – thank you! 👍

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Together we raised $126,690!

Our Christmas campaign officially closed on Sunday, and so now we’re excited to announce that with your collective generosity, we raised $126,690 to enable our village partners in Africa, India and Bangladesh to bring their visions of a different 2021 to life. Thank you!

With your support, this year will be a time of hope and new beginnings and a chance for us all to breathe life and energy back into our dreams.

Your partnership means that now people in rural villages around the world together with The Hunger Project are taking on new and exciting personal and community projects. The possibilities are endless. Think these kinds of bold action plans:

  • Learn to read and write
  • Kickstart a business idea to earn an income for their families
  • Lead their village for the first time to lift themselves and their community out of hunger and poverty

Our heartfelt thanks

We’d like to say a big thank you to our main matching partner EthicalJobs.com.au for generously providing the original $30,000 matching funds! We couldn’t have launched this campaign without you.

Thank you also to all the amazing people and businesses who came together to bring this campaign to life and to make it a success by providing further matching funds or sharing the message to their community:

Alex Bryant
Andre Eikmeier (Good Empire)
Andrea Candy
Andrew Spillane
Belinda Brosnan
Brad Hancock (Artedomus) 

Cathy Burke
Chorus Executive
Claire Whitbread
Coffees and Style
Deanne Boules
Elizabeth McIntyre
Gerard Castles
Griff Morris (Solar Dwellings)
Hamilton Locke

Kaye Jowett
L&A Social 
Labelium
Mostyn Family Foundation
Nibble Digital 
Nic McClanachan (Human Experience)
Peeplcoach
Ruby Agency
Ruby Connection (Westpac)
Social Diary
Sophia Lang
Talenza
Urban List 
Wellness in Real Life

Of course, thank you to everyone else who generously invested in The Hunger Project at this time – you are too many to list here but please know you are seen and acknowledged.

Here’s to a brighter 2021 and a world that works for everyone!

Welcoming new Global CEO, Tim Prewitt!

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This is an announcement shared by The Hunger Project Global Office.

The Hunger Project is thrilled to announce the appointment of Tim Prewitt, an international executive with more than 25 years of experience in the development and private sector, as President and CEO. Tim brings a deep commitment to community development, gender equity and empowering people living in extreme poverty.

“As we face the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgency to take a major step up in our work to end hunger and poverty,” said Sheree Stomberg, Chair of the Global Board of Directors. “Tim is the right leader to bring The Hunger Project’s sustainable solutions — solutions that are grounded in human dignity, gender equality, social transformation, and inclusion—to a breakthrough level of impact.” 

Tim has worked in more than 30 countries across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. During his tenure as CEO of iDE from 2012-2019, he led the organisation to greater impact, financial growth and global recognition. Prior to joining iDE, Tim worked in Nigeria with farmers, the private sector, and the Nigerian government to increase farmer income and farm yields, leading to an impact on more than a million farmers and a UN World Business Development Award. He also served as Regional Director for Asia and as head of the Private Sector Practice for Chemonics International.

“I am thrilled to join such a dynamic community committed to the end of hunger, and I am excited to learn more and build on the great work The Hunger Project is known for globally. We have a tremendous opportunity to amplify our sustainable solutions and drive new levels of impact around the world,” shared Tim. 

A highly regarded speaker on agriculture, poverty, and economic development, Tim has spoken at the World Economic Forum’s Grow Africa Initiative, Clinton Global Initiative, and World Food Prize, and is the author of the forthcoming book, Table for Ten Billion, which chronicles the efforts of farmers, policy makers, companies and communities around the world in feeding our planet. He is a Fulbright Fellow and holds an MBA from China-Europe International Business School (CN), and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology from the New School (USA) and Lancaster University (UK). 

“The time is now for bold action,” said Sheree. “With Tim’s leadership, together we can create the breakthroughs needed to create a world of self-reliance and dignity for all.”

Tim officially joins The Hunger Project on February 1 and will be based out of THP’s Global Office in New York. Acting CEO Lisa North will resume her role as Chief Operating Officer.