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A message from our CEO, Melanie Noden

“It feels as if my life has been rescued and the darkest times are far behind me.” Tsege Searko, Ethiopia used a microfinance loan and skills training from The Hunger Project to create a flourishing farm. 

Approximately 70% of the world’s hungry are women – and we firmly believe that empowering these women as key change agents in society is essential to achieve a sustainable end to hunger and poverty globally.

The sustainable end of hunger will not be achieved through aid and resource drops.

Community-led action that addresses ALL of the issues that lead to hunger is the ONLY solution.

Your support of The Hunger Project Australia has already enabled some of the poorest, hungriest women around the world to make enormous changes in their communities.

In 2016 alone, you enabled The Hunger Project Australia to:

  • Train 82,164 women through our Women’s Empowerment Program in Africa = a sustainable end to hunger!
  • Teach 55,014 women in Bangladesh about the negative impacts of child marriage and to stop this harmful, traditional practice that keeps girls out of school = a sustainable end to hunger.
  • Support 14,065 elected women in India to join forces as effective, respected leaders who bring education, healthcare and sanitation in their villages = a sustainable end to hunger!

Despite the daily hardships these women face – like hunger, violence, threats and discrimination – they are strong. They are bold. They are courageous.

Thank you for being the reason that The Hunger Project can continue our important work to support these courageous women on International Women’s Day, and every day!

Yours in ending hunger,

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia


Photo Credit: Anna Zhu


Violence and discrimination against women remain a pervasive challenge in Benin. In fact, a study in 2013 showed that 75% of women in Benin are victims of violence and more than 44% are sexually abused. To tackle this issue, The Hunger Project-Benin works with community partners through the Women’s Empowerment Program to raise awareness and empower local women through education and training. In 2016, these efforts included the establishment of village councils specifically dedicated to preserving children’s rights and preventing violence against women using educational sessions and plays.

Before establishing village councils, The Hunger Project-Benin helped coordinate a series of discussions with community and religious leaders and local officials. Participants listened to presentations and testimonies from one another and brainstormed solutions. A total of 41 participants attended these discussions and addressed issues like the consequences of gender inequality and the types and impact of violence against women, including child marriage. After the discussions, participants established village councils composed of community notables and local leaders.

In addition to the creation of village councils, the Women’s Empowerment Program hosted seminars in nine priority epicentres. The seminars included capacity-building sessions to empower women and girls economically, socially and politically and informational sessions on the impact of violence against women. In total, the seminars were able to reach over 400 people, including more than 160 women.

As a part of these initiatives, The Hunger Project-Benin began a targeted project called “Her Choice” in 2016, a project with the goal of ending child marriage and female genital mutilation entirely. Project organizers recruited a professional comedian to write and stage a play illustrating the negative impacts of child marriage, titled “Unchained Destiny.” The performance group, Le Baobab, trained 10-12 young girls and boys in each of the three initial epicentres to produce the play and perform it for a large audience of local officials and community members.

The plays were incredibly successful, eliciting emotional reactions and applause from the audience. Many community leaders committed to joining The Hunger Project-Benin in combating child marriage and encouraged project organizers to bring the production to other epicentres and partner villages. It’s only with the active commitment and participation of community members that we can reduce the incidences of violence against women and gender-related inequalities.

Credit: The Hunger Project Global Office

Top 10 Hunger Project Milestones of 2016

  1. Self-reliant epicentres: Ten epicentres across five of our  African countries celebrated achieving all the criteria to demonstrate their ability to successfully drive their own development in all key sectors.
  2. A Growing Movement: Our Movement for Community-led Development grew from 18 to 38 member organizations with activities in 92 countries. The movement was presented to the World Bank, USAID, the UN and IFPRI, and established chapters in Malawi, the UK, and the Netherlands and began the process in Haiti. A priority for the movement is sharing best practices to expand the community-led model: The Hunger Project-India works with the Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) to empower women in the local governance system.
  3. Restoring the Environment: The Hunger Project-Ethiopia was awarded our first-ever grant to integrate reforestation into our epicentre strategy. WeForest is partnering with The Hunger Project to tackle environmental threats and promote the resilience of local people through tree planting.  The partnership gives community partners ownership, leverages local knowledge and enhances environmental stewardship capacity.
  4. Youth and Gender: Our Washington colleague Mary Kate Costello was named to the UN’s Youth and Gender working group, and was flown by the UN to Indonesia to stress the importance of investing in young women’s cooperatives. Sweden’s Girl Platform (Flicka) organized unprecedented THP participation in Women Deliver bringing 14 staff from nine countries, as well as hosting a high-level reception during the UN Commission on the Status of Women. We also partnered with Her Choice—an alliance of organizations that are working to halt child marriage in 11 countries, and our work is well underway to deepen our impact to end child marriage in the communities where we work.
  5. Peace Treaties in Bangladesh: In a nation wracked by partisan violence, Badiul Majumdar has succeeded in having the three major political parties in 11 sub-districts sign codes of conduct to eschew violence and cooperate to halt violent extremism.
  6. National Strategic Plans: Building on our global strategic plan for 2016-2020, each Hunger Project country developed its national strategy to deepen our impact and take it to a transformative scale. Each country presented its strategy on global webinars. We established an online progress tracking system for the plans.
  7. Major New Funders: The Hunger Project-Mexico received our first-ever grant from the European Union, and The Hunger Project-India received its first grant via DASRA, the clearinghouse for corporate social investment.
  8. Learning Organization: The Hunger Project renewed its commitment to strengthening our practices as a learning organization. A department name change to “Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) reflected Our MEL department’s leadership for “Data for the People” was featured at the American Evaluation Association conference.
  9. New Policies in the US: We participated in the passage of key legislation to firmly establish reforms in the US government’s Global Food Security Strategy and aid transparency. Empowerment of communities is also now a priority for USAID for the first time in 20 years.
  10. Partnership in Malawi: Following epicentre visits by a Parliamentary Committee and the Minister, The Hunger Project and Malawi’s Ministry of local government and rural development signed an agreement to integrate Malawi’s rural development policy and our epicentre strategy, and to work with the Malawi Chapter of the Movement for Community-led Development to go to national scale.

Article courtesy of The Hunger Project’s, Global Executive Vice President,  John Coonrod on December 21, 2016.

Ndereppe Epicentre in Senegal has reached self-reliance

The Ndereppe Epicentre community in Senegal has officially reached all 3 criteria required to declare self-reliance, the ultimate goal of The Hunger Project’s Epicentre Strategy (where the community has the resources and skills needed to continue the work started by us, independent of The Hunger Project).

The criteria include reaching a minimum of 80 for their self-reliance score; having a land title; and being legally recognised as a community development organisation.

Now, we can share Ndereppe’s final self-reliance score – 91.76 (the highest seen yet among the first group of Epicentres that have reached self-reliance!) Ndereppe is the first Epicentre in Senegal to reach self-reliance.
This is testament to what our village partners can make possible in partnership with investors like you.
We now know that having investors like you specifically underwrite an Epicentre through to self-reliance is integral to the community’s success so they can maintain progress and momentum, and reach their goal on time.
We particularly acknowledge Gary Ward for leading the consortium of investors from Western Australia that has partnered with, and funded, the Ndereppe community.


Our 2030 Leaders program has just returned from Uganda where they attended the Kiruhura self-reliance celebrations.

Kiruhura achieved its self-reliance targets in November – meaning the community has demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development.

Some key highlights of Kiruhura’s achievements are:

  • Kiruhura has one of the highest Women’s Empowerment Index scores to date across our epicentres at nearly 78 out of 100 points
  • 100% of women are receiving at least one antenatal visit
  • There was a 65% increase in the proportion of the population aware of their HIV status since the midterm study in 2013
  • Extreme poverty was reduced by nearly 75% since the baseline measurement
  • 37% of households have a nonfarm business

This is a monumental achievement for these communities and all of the staff and investors who partnered with them along the way! We’d like to particularly acknowledge the Whitbread Foundation and the Cranlana group of investors, who have underwritten Kiruhura Epicenter.

Empowering Women as Key Change Agents

Women bear almost all responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfil this responsibility.

The vast majority of the world’s poor are women. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population is female. Of the millions of school-age children not in school, the majority are girls. And today, HIV/AIDS is rapidly becoming a woman’s disease. Women comprise nearly 60 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. Many women deny themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children’s fate as well.

Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient.

The Hunger Project firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and build their capacity.

The results of these programs include:

  • By providing women food farmers easy access to credit, adequate training and instilling in them the importance of saving, THP’s Microfinance Program enables women to engage in income-generating activities to increase their incomes and invest in their families and communities.
  • More than 1.3 million people have taken the HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshop, in which they not only learn the facts of AIDS but also confront and transform the gender-based behaviours that fuel the pandemic.
  • In India, our Women’s Leadership Workshop has empowered 83,000 women elected to local councils to be effective change agents in their villages. They are forming district- and state-wide federations to ensure that their voices are heard at top levels of government.
  • In Bangladesh, we catalysed the formation of a 300-organisation alliance that organises more than 800 events across the country each September in honour of National Girl Child Day, a day to focus on eradicating all forms of discrimination against girl children.

Roger Massy-Greene announced as new Global Board Member

Roger Massy-Greene, long time The Hunger Project Australia National Board member and investor, has been appointed as a new member of The Hunger Project’s Global Board of Directors.

Sheree Stomberg, Chair, The Hunger Project Governance, Nominating, and Human Resources Committee announced the appointment on 3 May 2016.

Roger has been an investor for more than a decade and has been a member of The Hunger Project board in Australia since 2010.  He currently serves as Chair of two publicly held electricity utilities in New South Wales, Australia. He was previously the Chair of Networks NSW, a joint venture entity that managed the three electricity distribution networks in that state. Roger is a director of OneVentures Pty Ltd, a technology venture firm. He co-founded the ASX 200 company, Excel Coal Limited and was its Chairman until its acquisition by Peabody Energy in 2006. He previously worked for Bank of America and for Rio Tinto plc.

Roger also serves as Chairman of the Salvation Army’s Sydney Advisory Board and of Eureka Benevolent Foundation (EBF), a family foundation focused on social justice issues. EBF has been The Hunger Project’s funding partner for the Champiti Epicentre in Malawi since its inception. He is the Deputy President of Cranbrook School in Sydney. Roger holds a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from the University of Sydney, and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University.

Already a vital member The Hunger Project family, Roger has been instrumental in supporting the dynamic growth trajectory of The Hunger Project Australia. We now welcome his leadership as a member of our Global Board.

Ghana Epicentres Achieve Targets for Self-Reliance

In eight countries of Africa, our Epicentre Strategy mobilises clusters of rural villages into “epicentres,” which band together 5,000-15,000 people to create a dynamic centre where communities are mobilised for action to meet their basic needs. This strategy is designed to partner with communities over a period of about eight years after which they graduate to a phase of “sustainable self-reliance,” which means that communities have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development.

We are thrilled to announce that three epicentres in Ghana — AtuobikromAkotekrom and Nsuta-Aweregya Epicentres  —  have achieved the targets they set for declaring their self-reliance.

Self-reliant communities have demonstrated progress in the following eight goals:

  1. Mobilised rural communities that continuously set and achieve their own development goals;
  2. Empowered women and girls in rural communities;
  3. Improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural communities;
  4. Improved literacy and education in rural communities;
  5. Reduced prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in rural communities, especially for women and children;
  6. Improved access to and use of health resources in rural communities;
  7. Reduced incidence of poverty in rural communities; and
  8. Improved land productivity and climate resilience of smallholder farmers.

Community members of these epicenters have affirmed multiple local partnerships, created funding streams from revenue-generating activities and established gender-balanced leadership structures to support sustainable growth. The Hunger Project has activated its exit strategy, and it is anticipated that there will be no further financial inputs, with the exception of not-as-frequent staff visits and a post-evaluation three to five years later in a select number of epicenters.

This is a monumental achievement for these communities and all of the staff and investors who partnered with them along the way! The communities will be celebrating this milestone in July, so stay tuned for more news and photos!

Read more about self-reliance and how we measure it

Find out more about the journeys of AtuobikromAkotekrom and Nsuta-Aweregya Epicentres.

Meet our new CEO, Melanie Noden

Ending hunger by 2030 is an enormous task, but the National Board of The Hunger Project Australia has found the perfect woman for the job, to succeed the long-standing visionary CEO Cathy Burke and further the incredible work she has achieved. Melanie Noden’s vision and aspiration for the organisation will carry The Hunger Project Australia further in their mission with the inspirational team by her side.

Originally from an investment banking background (15 year career with Deutsche Bank in Australia and London and 5 years as a Solicitor with Allens Arthur Robinson), Melanie transitioned to the non-for-profit sector and became the CEO of the Asylum Seekers Centre. During the 4 years with the organisation, she successfully established a sound financial platform at the organisation, through a combination of fundraising, media positioning and lobbying and increased the number of clients served by 500%.

Upon accepting the new role as CEO of THPA, Melanie said, “I am honored to be appointed as the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia. With a unique and holistic approach which empowers people to become agents of their own change.”

Melanie has a huge passion and belief in social justice, equity and the health and well-being of all people and has used her professional skills and qualifications to provide pro bono work for a range of not-for-profit organisations throughout her career.  

“I eagerly look forward to working with a passionate and committed group of colleagues, investors and friends to make further progress in achieving our aim by 2030,” says Melanie.

Cathy Burke, the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia for 18 years, will be moving on to new and exciting opportunities within the organisation in a global capacity. She will be expanding her influence, knowledge and leadership within The Hunger Project by taking on the role of Global Vice President and Global Leader of Partnerships.

“I am so grateful for the many years I have had as CEO at The Hunger Project Australia. I am proud of the organisation that has been built, and the difference it has made to the lives of millions of the poorest people,” says Cathy.

Melanie Noden will commence in her role as the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia on 26 April, 2016.

Soap making entrepreneurs

These women are from our Matsekope Epicentre in Ghana. They have a soap making business together. They’ve taken a collective microfinance loan from The Hunger Project to run their business and they put the profits back into the business or divide them up to help support their families. Mostly, they sell their products at the local market. They’re savvy businesswomen, and have worked out which colours of soaps have sold better than others!