Skip to Content

“Communities should rise up for girls”

Daisy Owomugasho, Regional Director of The Hunger Project Uganda, wrote the following article that was featured in Uganda’s leading newspaper, ‘The Newvision’.

I believe that there has never been a moment in time more important than today when all forms of community systems are being called upon to rise up and protect our children, especially the girls, from any form of abuse. As we continue the fight against COVID-19, it is everybody’s call to ensure that we do not lose the gains we have laboured so much to realise.

Since March, when schools were ordered to close, we have seen an increase in cases of child marriage in different parts of the country. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda was struggling, but working steadily in its efforts to deliver on a number of international obligations regarding sexual and reproductive health among girls and young boys.

The closure of schools in March as a result of COVID-19 was a good intervention, but it also had a big impact in the area of sexual and reproductive health for girls mainly. Schools play a very big role in protecting girls from a lot of sexually related crimes that are ever present in our communities.

According to the UN and our own observations at The Hunger Project Uganda, if girls were to be allowed to complete the entire primary and secondary education cycle in school, this alone reduces their chances of catching HIV by 50%. Staying in school further insulates the girls from many other sexual and reproductive health situations such as early marriage, domestic violence and all other forms of abuse. Schools, therefore, indirectly contribute to more than 70% of the girl’s chances of a healthy and productive future.

UNFPA estimates that the total effect of the COVID-19 pandemic could mean approximately 13 million additional child marriages globally. This means as a country we need to scale up efforts in building and providing safety for girls. Now that schools are closed, the responsibility of keeping our children safe, especially the girls, has shifted to the communities. Unfortunately, information that has been received regarding the first few months of the girls being at home shows that communities have not been doing a good job.

Since March, when schools were ordered to close, we have seen an increase in cases of child marriage in different parts of the country. We have seen an increase in all forms of abuse targeting the girls such as rape and defilement. Suddenly, the number of new HIV infections among young people has also started to rise again.

For years, The Hunger Project Uganda has invested a lot in building strong community systems that work to protect girls from any form of abuse, including early marriages. We have a vibrant network of community animators with local knowledge that are able to identify such abuses when they occur. The community animators also act as early warning systems against any form of abuse likely to happen to any girl.

Communities have intelligence and are usually in the know regarding what families may be planning to do. When such abuses are identified, the necessary interventions are done to ensure that the girls are protected. I, therefore, believe that there has never been a moment in time more important than today when all forms of community systems are being called upon to rise up and protect our children, especially girls, from any form of abuse.

There are some good community innovations we can borrow from; a case in point is the community of Kalamba sub-county in the Butambala district. As a way of dealing with the rampant cases of child marriage in their area, the local community with support from The Hunger Project Uganda and area leaders mobilised and adopted a community bylaw through their local council.

The bylaw gives communities the power to detect and prevent any form of child marriage by identifying and shaming individuals who continue to engage in this form of abuse. Communities work closely with all local enforcement agencies, including the Police to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated and victims are protected throughout. As we continue the fight against COVID-19, it is everybody’s call to ensure that we do not lose the gains we have laboured so much to realise. The responsibility of keeping our girls safe from any harm should never be left to schools alone.

In order to contribute to attaining the global development goals, specifically goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,10 and 17, The Hunger Project Uganda through its Women Empowerment programme, is implementing Her Choice Project that seeks to create child marriage-free communities in 9 districts of Uganda and safe choices for deaf girls in Mbale. Through gender-focused community-led development (GFCLD), The Hunger Project Uganda has invested significantly in building the capacity of girls, both in and out of school, to participate in decision-making processes through peer clubs.

The Hunger Project Uganda has also built and supported community systems and structures to provide an enabling environment for girls to thrive and reach their full potential Communities should rise up and be safe zones for all our children during this pandemic. We are continuing with our advocacy of ensuring safe places for our girls.

Reforestation and Tree Planting in Ethiopia

In the Machakel region of northeastern Ethiopia, the grass grows well and the hills are green during the rainy season. However, there was also significant soil erosion on the hills. Due to the erosion, deep channels stripped of vegetation were worn into the otherwise green landscape. Almost all of the native forest on the hills was cut down and the soil was depleted, resulting in crop failures and food insecurity.

Since 2017, The Hunger Project Ethiopia and WeForest have been working together to fight erosion in the area. WeForest is an organisation that empowers communities to sustainably advance and implement lasting solutions to restore forest landscapes.

“Population pressure has increased. Large areas of forest have been cut to create more agricultural land. As a result, the soil isn’t retained as well. Because of climate change, the rains are getting heavier — large areas of land simply wash away,” says Dr Aklilu, Forestry Expert at WeForest.

“WeForest has a lot of expertise in forest planting and forest management. The Hunger Project is strong in engaging and mobilising the community. This is desperately needed because we need action from our village partners in the area. It is ultimately in the interest of the people themselves that erosion is tackled, and we want to achieve that together,” he says.

Our village partners in Machakel play a crucial role in the collaboration, contributing with:

  1. Land – they make communal land available for forest planting, instead of grazing cattle
  2. Time – they unite in committees, assist in planting seedlings and protecting plants
  3. Selection of trees – instead of planting popular, exotic trees such as eucalyptus, they now plant protected, native trees

“The most important thing for me is that we create a better living environment for all of us and counteract the effects of climate change. The children that I will probably have [in the future], must also be able to live here” – Gizachen Buyu, The Hunger Project village partner.

Now, grass has regrown to knee height and trees have grown where erosion channels used to be. The countryside has recovered.


  • Seedlings were grown in three nurseries in the region
  • Our village partners formed 60 farmer committees
  • 530 hectares of community land was made available for forest and planting (where previously it had been used for livestock grazing)
  • More than 1 million trees have been planted
  • Farmers have planted 735,000 fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs on their own land so that 270 hectares of land is now used for agroforestry

Invest in a sustainable future and food security for families here.

Shania stopped her own marriage… at 14.

“I know the consequences of child marriage. [From The Hunger Project,] We also learnt about the evils of drugs, as well as changes during adolescence. Knowing all of this has given me the courage to protect myself against early marriage. I was able to convince my parents. My marriage is over. Now I can realise my dream of becoming a teacher.”

The Hunger Project runs programs such as Youth Ending Hunger in schools in rural Bangladesh. Shania is in year 9 at school and lives in the Naogaon district 

In parts of Bangladesh that are very poor, many families struggle to afford to send their children to school. Because boys tend to be valued more than girls, parents typically pull out girls from school and marry them off, even before the legal age of 18. COVID-19 has compounded an already bad situation: the UN Population Fund estimates an additional 13 million child marriages will occur between 2020-2030 due to the pandemic. 

Shania usually rides a bicycle to school. The people of the village did not approve of her behaviour, so they approached her father with a marriage proposal. Shania knew that she had to do something to stop it happening. She had learnt about the negative consequences of child marriage through the Youth Ending Hunger’ program in her school – a program run by school students who have been trained by The Hunger Project tmobilise their classmates around the issue of child marriage. 

Because of this knowledge, Shania was able to talk to her parents about the consequences of child marriage, such as the health dangers of giving birth before her body was fully developed and continuing the cycle of malnutrition for her baby. As a result, her parents helped her to stop her marriage, and she was luckily able to remain in school. 

It has never been a more critical time to empower girls to stop the harmful practice of child marriage today — invest here.

Nobel Peace Prize Highlights Issue of World Hunger by Honoring World Food Programme

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has named the World Food Programme (WFP) the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. As David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP, said in a statement following the award, “Today is a reminder that food security, peace and stability go together. Without peace, we cannot achieve our global goal of zero hunger; and while there is hunger, we will never have a peaceful world.”

Over the last five years, global hunger has steadily increased, driven largely by conflict and environmental shocks. And now, the global COVID-19 pandemic threatens to push 130 million more people into hunger by the end of 2020.

“We salute the Nobel Committee for highlighting the issue of world hunger, and congratulate our partners at the World Food Programme,” said Sheree Stomberg, Chair of The Hunger Project’s Global Board of Directors. “It is critical that the world community step up our efforts and invest the resources needed to end hunger.”

“We have seen that when community members work together to achieve development goals, they become stronger, more resilient and more peaceful. This is the key to sustainable change,” said Stomberg.

Hunger is rooted in deeply entrenched conditions of inequality, conflict, corruption and climate change. We at The Hunger Project work in partnership with local communities to implement solutions that are sustainable, multi-sectoral, and community-led, to catalyze systemic change throughout governance structures and society.

We are glad the Norwegian Nobel Committee turned the world’s attention to the importance of ending hunger through this award. Let this recognition kickstart a decade of action and global commitment toward ending hunger.

Originally published by The Hunger Project.


Innovations arise during COVID-19 in our Program Countries.

Hunger and poverty create the perfect storm for a disaster to take hold, and this has been proven throughout the pandemicIn India, the number of recorded COVID-19 cases has surpassed 5 million. There have been over 1 million cases across Africa, and more than 300,000 in BangladeshHowever, with inadequate testing and few health facilities, these numbers are likely to be much higher in reality, and the task of stopping the spread is much more challengingThe Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the pandemic will force an additional 83 to 132 million people to live in hunger every day (read more about the link between hunger and COVID-19 here).

In the face of COVID-19, the core tenets of The Hunger Project’s work are as relevant as ever and have set us up in the best possible position to respond. Our long-term work promoting local leadership, strong systems, and resilience are all critical as communities navigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19. The very model we work within enables our village partners to proactively respond to the virus and the lasting effects of the lockdown.  

The following are just two excellent examples from Uganda and Ghana on how innovation and creativity have been unleashed: 

Firstly, meet Irene Sara from Uganda: 

“From the trainings by The Hunger Project, I learnt that food can be stored for a long time. During times of scarcity…I am [now] food secure.” 

In this video, hear how she has achieved food security for herself and her family and is able to earn an income even during the pandemic.  

Secondly, meet a group of young women in Ghana: 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the country was short ofmasks. Most of them were imported When the situation got worse, we decided to mobilise people using locally-made materials. This has improved access and usage [for the community].” 

In this video, hear how the THP-Ghana team adapted their skills-training workshops during COVID-19 so that young women  many who have had to drop out of school because of pregnancy due to child marriage – learn dressmaking and earn an income to support themselves. 


Want to learn more? 

You can find out about our COVID-19 framework for action and what we’ve achieved so far in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in THP communities here 

Make an impact today

So many of you have already generously invested during COVID-19 — thank you! Both our regular programs and COVID-19 initiatives are ongoing, so your investment today will continue to enable people to protect themselves and their familiesand also lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Reach out to 16.5 million people living in THP communities in Africa, India and Bangladesh by donating here. 

Meet Kaushalya

Sustainability, Interconnectedness, Decentralisation.

Kaushalya is an Elected Women Representative from Uttarakhand, India, a remote region at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Hunger Project worked with her to develop the skills she needs to make change for her community as a representative through our SWEEP program (Strengthening Women’s Empowerment through Electoral Processes). As part of this program, The Hunger Project trains Elected Women to read, write, speak and lead the political agenda to improve education, health, and nutrition in their villages.

Uttarakhand is the only state in India where village communities come together to protect and nurture their forests by forming forest councils. The forests are a lifeline for women. They provide wood for them to build their houses, dry wood for fires and fodder for their cattle. Ensuring the sustainability of the forests is crucial for survival in the village.

However, in Kaushalya’s village, they hadn’t held elections for the forest council in 15 years.

“We formed a collective of 30 women and decided to revive the forest elections,” Kaushalya said.

“My team of women patrolled the forests. We didn’t allow anyone to cut down the trees. Together, we planted 100,000 trees. We take care of the forests like we do our own children.”

During her term as an Elected Women Representative, Kaushalya made 45,000 kg of paddy seeds available to the farmers and distributed 300 tree samplings to encourage the people in her village to grow trees. For the women in her village, 80% of their farms are across the other side of the river, which means the women have to walk a long distance to their farms. Kaushalya secured the building of a bridge by taking the matter to her village council. She also took action to prevent soil erosion by building 11 check dams (small dams built to reduce water flow velocity) by the river.

“I want my village to continue thriving.”

Kaushalya continues to shape a legacy of protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable change for future generations in her community.

Donate to women like Kaushalya to bring transformation to villages in India here.


How to partner with a not-for-profit

There are other ways to give to a not-for-profit in addition to monetary investment. Everybody has something they can contribute.

Essentially, there are two main ways you can give to a not-for-profit on top of a financial investment — they are time and skills. There is lots of work to be done by organisations who are tackling huge global issues, so the time and skills of others are invaluable.

If you’re wanting to further your involvement with a cause you’re passionate about, you can combine both time and skills to become a pro-bono partner; that is, volunteer your professional expertise to support the operations of an organisation.

Here at The Hunger Project, we have a handful of pro-bono agencies and freelancers who support us with high-quality work. Here’s a summary from one of our pro-bono partners, Good Data Institute, about how exactly they partnered with us and the impact they were able to create by doing what they do best.

In 2019, the Good Data Institute (GDI) partnered with The Hunger Project Australia (THPA) to support an internal pro-bono data and analytics project. The Hunger Project team wanted to use its donations data to better understand the needs and behaviour of its donor community. Luke Mills and Elizabeth Reid of GDI spent ~50 hours examining donation patterns, the typical lifecycle of different donor archetypes, and the strengths of different appeals and campaigns. At the end of the project, GDI provided THPA with a fact base that it can use to support its future marketing and communications strategies.

The work of THPA has long been respected by the GDI team; Tom Perfrement has previously run P2P campaigns for THPA, and Luke is close with youth board members Jo Akehurst and Ethan Atkins. GDI is inspired by THPA’s ability to form deep and extensive connections between donors and Epicentres while driving meaningful progress towards ending global poverty and hunger. The team was honoured to be able to work with The Hunger Project, and hopes to support THPA with its data and analytics needs in the future.

If you are interested in partnering with us for the end of hunger, please get in touch with our Head of Partnerships at and let us know how you’d like to work with us —all ideas welcome!

Thanks to you, we far exceeded our COVID-19 fundraising goal.

You reached out and helped raise $302,345!

We asked you to stay in to activate The Hunger Project’s 500,000 highly trained community leaders on the ‘village frontlines’ of this pandemic to reach out to 16.5 million people in their communities. Your generosity truly blew us away! Collectively, you invested an incredible $302,345. At a time where we know you are all navigating your own challenges, you were expansive in your thinking and actions, and gave what you could to enable others to protect themselves and their families. We thank you for that.

We are so proud to say that your generosity combined with the leadership of our village partners created outstanding results. Your investment, together with investments from all around the world, enabled our local volunteer leaders to quickly mobilise their communities and respond to COVID-19 with ingenuity and strength. They didn’t take on a victim mindset or wait for help to come from outside sources; instead, due to years of training with THP, they adopted a leader mindset and were empowered to take action themselves.

Together here’s what our village partners achieved:



  • 4,354 Tippy Taps installed in villages to bring simple handwashing stations close to the homes of people. Animators (local volunteer leaders) have led the education and training in how to properly use them.
  • 8,000 Elected Women and 3,600 Adolescent Girls trained by THP formed phone trees and What’s App groups to deliver accurate, easy-to-understand health information to 500,000 people.
  • 9,400 community members participated in specially designed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene workshops so they are personally equipped to prevent the spread.
  • 137,160 face masks made and distributed – ‘sewing armies’ have been set up in some areas to learn from one another and keep collectively strong while giving back.
  • 97,465 food rations distributed to those who have been identified by Elected Women as on the brink of absolute destitution. Although THP usually has a ‘No handouts’ policy, this new idea was put forward by Elected Women who saw the dire need in their villages.
  • 135,709 public health leaflets distributed. These have often been translated into local languages or the information is shown in pictures, so that as many people as possible can understand them.

Thank you to everyone who brought this campaign to life and made it such a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.


Our generous partners and supporters:

Bared Footwear
Business Chicks
Coffees and Style
Conexus Financial 
Diane Grady & Chris Komor
Elizabeth McIntyre
Got You Girl
Hamilton Locke
Hey Tiger
Roger Massy-Greene

Ruby PR Agency 
Simon Blackburn & Niamh Brosnan
Social Diary 
Studio 10 
The Beeren Foundation
The Brand Brigade
The Fit Foodie
The Protter Family
Ticker TV 
Urban List 
Wellness in Real Life

This #StayInReachOut campaign has once again proved to us that when like-minded and like-hearted people come together to make a difference in the world, anything is possible. Your partnership – especially at this time – means so much to us. Thank you for being part of the global THP community!

Ending hunger is our responsibility

Words by Irene Ssentongo, Head of Programs at The Hunger Project Uganda.

The 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI) indicates that the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide falls within the moderate and serious categories. With a score of 30.6, Uganda suffers from a level of hunger that is classified as serious. Uganda produces more food than it consumes, yet stunting in children under five years stands at 29%.

Food is fundamental to human dignity and no human being can sustainably live on food aid. Families all around the world must be empowered to sustainably produce and consume nutritious food for their wellbeing. Why has hunger persisted in Uganda? Victor Hugo, a French poet and novelist said, “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Ending hunger is not about finding more solutions nor doing something more. It is not about inventing new solutions nor is it about doing nothing. It is about causing the end of hunger on this planet by thinking out of the box.

There are unwritten laws that determine the persistence of hunger. These same laws keep people from working. It is also true that the principles that govern the end of hunger and poverty are the very principles that motivate people to get up and work. To better understand these hidden laws and principles one needs to examine and understand human nature specifically the unconscious assumptions and beliefs that shape our responses to the problem of hunger.

The first assumption relates to scarcity. We tend to perceive the world from the scarcity mindset. We have been raised to believe that everything of value is scarce and, therefore, needs to be safeguarded lest you lose it all. Food is not scarce, it is just the mindset that believes in the idea of scarcity.

The second assumption relates to inevitability. We perceive different conditions in the world as being inevitable. Many people believe that a fraction of the population will always be hungry irrespective of the efforts to free themselves.

Thirdly is the assumption of no solution. Many may ask, what should I do? Or there is nothing much I can do about the situation. We assume there is no solution to the problem of persistent hunger.

However, there are principles we can follow. The first principle is contextualisation. Ending hunger can only be realised when the state of its existence is transformed from just focusing on the solution to analysing the intention behind the solution. In creating a context, people get to answer the question, “Why am I choosing this course of action?”

Ending hunger calls for personal responsibility. You have to be fully involved in order to become the centre of influence. This is also a question of human dignity. As human beings we are born with a natural and spontaneous sense of responsibility. When we awaken this sense of personal responsibility, we birth the idea of ending hunger.

You cannot end hunger by just playing your part. There is no ‘part’, but the whole. One needs to commit fully to making the idea work. Hunger is not just the mere absence of food, but also an empowerment issue. Addressing the whole not just the parts is creating the context through which the end of hunger and poverty in the world will be achieved.

Lastly is the principle of transformation. Sustainable Development Goal two predicts an end of hunger by 2030. When we take a look back 10 years from now at how hunger ended, it will not seem as if miracles happened.

Everyone involved in this struggle will know how it all happened. They will point back to events that were pivotal in making this dream a reality. Transformative changes happen when people become more open-minded, intentional and committed to ending world hunger. Ending hunger is everyone’s responsibility. It is not only the solutions out there that will ignite change, but also the intentions behind whatever solutions we seek in the process.

Be part of the whole and invest in the end of hunger here.

An Update on our COVID-19 Response

Our COVID-19 response

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the core tenets of The Hunger Project’s work are as relevant as ever. Our long-term work promoting local leadership, strong systems, and resilience are all critical as communities navigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
The Hunger Project has mobilised 500,000 trained, local leaders in 13 countries around the world to create COVID-Resilient Communities in each of the 13,600 villages where we work. Our program leadership created a Framework for Action designed to be tailored to each local context, empowering community leaders with the tools and information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

Our Framework for Action

At the community level – a 5-point plan:

  1. Spreading awareness and understanding – of how to stay safe by promoting hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing face coverings in public, and debunking misinformation
  2. Ensuring access to hand washing stations – for every household and in key public places
  3. Identifying symptomatic residents – linking them to health officials where possible and assisting them to isolate
  4. Ensuring relief for those who are destitute – either from public safety nets or community philanthropy, and encouraging innovation to preserve livelihoods
  5. Promoting community peace, trust and cohesion – introducing strategies to halt stigma, social unrest, scapegoating, gender-based violence, and child marriage

Response Highlights

The community-led response to COVID-19 looks different in each country. Some of the actions we have taken in partnership with our network of leaders include:
  • Installing 2,200 “Tippy Taps” (touchless handwashing stations) in Benin
  • Raising $300,000 through community philanthropy to support the most impacted people in 1,900 villages in Bangladesh
  • Equipping 8,000 elected women in India with information to share with their constituents  and distributing food and sanitation packs to 11,654 of the most vulnerable households in Bihar
  • Using radio to reach up to 718,000 people across Africa with messages about preventing the spread of COVID-19

Make an Impact

If you would like to reach 16.5 million people in Africa, India and Bangladesh and enable them to stop the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, you can invest here.