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Malawi to end child marriages

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The country with one of the highest rates of child marriages has taken a major step to end the practice by adopting a constitutional amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years-old. 

In a major win for young girls all across the continent, on 14 February the Malawi Parliament took a landmark decision towards advancing gender equality by banning child marriage in the country. Unanimously the Parliament of Malawi adopted a constitutional amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years, for both girls and boys. The amendment aligns the Constitution with the 2015 Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act enacted by the Parliament.

Each year around 15 million girls will be married before they turn 18. The Hunger Project and 0ur partners have been a strong advocate for an end to child marriage

According to the UN, half of the girls in Malawi are often married before the age of 18 and teen pregnancies contributing to 20-30 per cent of maternal deaths in the country. The practice of child marriage locks girls into a cycle of poverty, with many forced to leave education after they marry, rendering girls more vulnerable to violence.

The new reform aligns the Constitution with Malawi’s international and regional obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and others, including the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.

Your investment can help bring an end to child marriage. Donate today. 



Meet the Champiti community

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The Champiti community in Malawi used to live in chronic hunger and poverty.

Dennis is a member of Champiti and he said his entire community was suffering terribly. There were no roads and the nearest hospital was two days’ walk away.

“Pregnant women would attempt to walk to the hospital but go into labour on the way. Mothers and infants died. Those infants who survived were not vaccinated. The hospital was just too far away,” Dennis said. 

The Campiti thought there was no way out. They had no vision for their future.

“We thought this was our lot in life… we had no hope for our future,” Dennis said.  

The Hunger Project set up Vision, Commitment, Action workshops, as well as entrepreneurship training and microfinance loans in Champiti and now the locals have reached the historic milestone of self-reliance.

Thanks to investors like you 100% of the Champiti community have access to clean, safe water, 100% of births are attended to by a licensed professional, fewer than 1% are living in hunger, 95% of households have at least one literate person, and amazingly there has been a 680% increase in children attending secondary school.   

There are many ways you can partner with the people of Champiti:

  1. Invest with a one-off or monthly gift
  2. Share the story of the people from Champiti on social media and tag The Hunger Project Australia
  3. Read more about our work in Africa
  4. Learn about our leadership immersion programs to Africa, India and Bangladesh

Meet Amina

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Amina used to live in chronic hunger. She could not see any way out of the repetitive daily struggle to survive. She had no hope for the future.

Her life involved spending days gather wood, walking for hours to collect water, and back-breaking work in the fields to try and grow enough food to feed her family. Every day was the same for Amina.

“My children didn’t go to school. Why would they need to go to school just to work in the fields?” Amina said. 

Her life changed because someone like you invested in her. She attended one of The Hunger Project’s Vision, Commitment, Action workshops where Amina learned that she had the power to change her life. For the first time, she created a vision for her future, made a commitment to herself, and learned how to take action and achieve her new visions. 

“Now I have a successful soap making business, I have learned how to grow vegetables and make nutritious meals for my family and I have a beautiful vegetable garden. My children go to school and I work with my husband in his business. Together we make joint decisions about our children and our money,” Amina said. 

Finding her vision for her future, Amina is now committed to helping others in her village achieve their own vision and end their own hunger. Her entire village is being transformed thanks to the partnerships and investments from people like you. 

There are many ways you can partner with people like Amina:

  1. Invest with a one-off or monthly gift 
  2. Share Amina’s story on social media and tag The Hunger Project Australia
  3. Read more about our work in Africa
  4. Learn about our leadership immersion programs to Africa, India and Bangladesh




Meet Dennis

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Before The Hunger Project came to his community, Dennis was living in severe hunger.

“Sometimes I found small jobs to do in exchange for food. Sometimes I would have to beg for food. Sometimes I would have to steal from my neighbours. Often, I would have to fall asleep without eating. I nearly died of hunger,” Dennis said. 

His life was transformed because someone like you invested in him. Dennis attended farming technique workshops set up by The Hunger Project in his community of Champiti. By applying what he learned, he tripled the yield of his family’s farm. His family now have enough food for the entire year and even have some produce left over to sell locally.

Thanks to entrepreneurship training and a microfinance loan he received from The Hunger Project, Dennis and his wife Bernadette are now the proud owners of a grocery store.

“I am transformed… My three-year-old son Cheos eats three times a day, every day. He has never slept on an empty stomach,” Dennis said.

Right now, there are people who are living in severe hunger and urgently need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation before June 30 and partner with people like Dennis. Your investment will make sure people, families and communities can achieve their vision of ending poverty and hunger.




This is what ending hunger looks like

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Almost half of the population of Senegal lives on less than US$1.25 a day. One in five children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working and not in school. There are often shortages of food and high levels of unemployment.

These statistics are not just figures. They are the reality for thousands of people living in Senegal. It is also what life was like for people living in Ndereppe, a community in Senegal, before the community partnered with The Hunger Project 13 years ago.

“Everyone here in Ndereppe has been impacted by The Hunger Project. It was as if we were living in the dark and now we finally see the light.” – Aseensar, a member of the Ndereppe community.

The Hunger Project’s partnership was the catalyst for the people of Ndereppe to interrupt their own mindset about what was possible for themselves and their future – and ultimately to achieve self-reliance.

“Before, I did not have the ability or funds to own sheep. My situation began to improve after I attended The Hunger Project’s Entrepreneurship Workshops and took a microfiance loan from the local bank. At the start, I was afraid to make investments and take loans, but I’ve found the confidence to do it, and as a result I have yielded 2 tonnes of grain for my family and trading.”

The magnitude of Ndereppe’s success would not have been possible without your support and the commitment and persistence of the Ndereppe community. By empowering women and men to become the authors of their own destiny, they have been able to achieve things they used to think were impossible. Children are attending school, unemployment has dropped and the community has access to clean water and quality healthcare. They have ended hunger in their community.

Reflecting on the power of our work: A message from our CEO

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To our valued partners in the end of hunger,

I recently travelled to Senegal with a group of 20 incredible women on one of our Business Chicks immersion programs. This was my first opportunity to experience a self-reliant community 18 months after they had reached their targets for self-reliance, and I was inspired by all I saw.

Since the Ndereppe community reached self- reliance, they have continued to flourish through constantly looking at what is possible. In the millet seed loan scheme, new processes meant for the first time in their history they achieved 100% repayment – creating a reserve of $8,000 towards a new millet mill! A women’s circle has doubled their self-reliance grant through strategically investing in women’s small businesses. But what struck me most was how healthy, happy and energetic the children were – in them I saw a wonderful future for the community.

On International Women’s Day I reflected on the empowered women leaders I have had the privilege to meet. I wanted to share with you the words of one of the women leaders – Coumba in Coki Epicentre – who when asked what advice she would give women said “yeewu, yeewu, yeewu” or “awake, awake, awake”. This is a strong call-to-action to all of us to press forward and progress gender equity and to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Thank you for your solidarity and optimism for the future. With you, lives are being transformed.

Yours in ending hunger,

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia

International Women’s Day 2018

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I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.  – Audre Lorde (writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist.)

Today, March 8, we stand with millions of people around the globe to recognise International Women’s Day, a day that honours the achievements of women and girls everywhere.

This year’s theme is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” recognising the significance of recent unprecedented social movements around the world for women’s rights, justice, and equality and their transformational power.

Women’s rights movements — propelled by the bravery of sexual assault survivors, accelerated by the work of activists, and shared on social media platforms — have put women’s role in society at the forefront of global discussions. From #MeToo in the United States of America, to other protests against sexual harassment and violence, such as #YoTambien in Mexico, Spain, South America and beyond; #QuellaVoltaChe in Italy; #BalanceTonPorc in France; and #Ana_kaman in the Arab States, everyday activists around the world have forced the global conversation towards issues of sexual assault, gender-based violence, gender equality, equal pay and women’s political representation.

International Women’s Day 2018 is a time to leverage this momentum and move towards real change for women around the world. Every year during this time of year, The Hunger Project joins thousands of other organisations and activists to celebrate those that work tirelessly, day in and day out, to ensure that every woman is treated with the dignity and respect she deserves.

Rural women are the backbones of their communities. They work the land and support their families, ensure food security for their communities, and feed their nations. However rural women fare much worse than rural men or urban women on many development indicators. For example, rural women only own 20 percent of land worldwide, despite the fact that they represent 43 percent of people in the global agricultural labour force.

This level of inequality is significant in a world where rural women make up over a quarter of the world population. Global pay inequality is also a challenge. While women make 70 cents on the dollar as compared to men globally, in rural areas, it can be as low as 60 percent. We know from data monitoring on Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, that rural women often lack access to life-saving services and healthcare, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Empowering women to reach their full potential means respecting women’s rights and dignity as human beings. That’s why The Hunger Project works to support and build the capacity and skills of women and girls in our program areas. For instance, in India, The Hunger Project builds leadership skills among women who have been systematically denied information, freedom of motion and a voice in decision making. We support empowering the women electorate, encouraging voter participation among women and the election of women leaders to all panchayat (village council) seats. Since 2000, The Hunger Project India has trained 175,000 women leaders elected to their local councils to be effective agents of change in their communities.

At our Epicentres across Africa, tens of thousands of women food farmers are increasing their incomes and strengthening their clout in the marketplace through our Microfinance Program, training, credit and savings program. Our Women’s Empowerment Program throughout Africa and specialised animator training worldwide empowers women to seek positions of leadership and train all of our partners, women and men, to take responsibility for improving lives in their communities.

In Bangladesh, programs like our Safe School for Girls Campaign empowers students, teachers, parents and local communities to stop child marriages and promote opportunities for girls. Since the program’s launch, more than 20,000 people have been trained in Safe School for Girls workshops.

And, to support us achieving the most impact possible, our Women’s Empowerment Index is designed to measure progress in the multi-dimensional aspects of women’s empowerment, which better informs and improves our programs that target empowering women.

This year, join us in standing with women and girls everywhere.

Overcoming inequality for rural and urban women is absolutely critical to achieving the end of hunger. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, to demand equality for all.

Students raise funds to eliminate hunger from their community

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The Hunger Project runs 8 month-long ‘Functional Adult Literacy Classes’ in Coki, Senegal that are open for both men and women to attend.  The classes are free for students and run for 3 hours, 4 times per week.  The Hunger Project pays the teachers a salary and provides all the books required for the training.

As adults, the students face a greater challenge in learning to read and write, but say they  “know education is the key to a different future…”. They are committed to learning and work hard every morning so they’re free to come to classes in the afternoons.

The students have come to understand the value of education, as they’ve seen the way it’s transforming lives and their community.  They want literacy classes run independently of The Hunger Project one day, so have chosen to make personal contributions toward a venture that will generate an income and ensure their vision comes to life.

Together, they are raising male sheep to sell for breeding. All the income raised will go back into funding the literacy classes.

Meet Coumba

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Coumba, the epitome of leading through a “power with” others approach.

As a young girl Coumba was illiterate, yet through The Hunger Project training she’s now a senior leader in the Senegal National Government who has trained more than 5,000 women to create and run their own successful businesses.

The Mayor of Coki described her as the “lion”. When we asked her about leadership and lifting other women up, her advice was “yawou, yawou, yawou”…wake up, wake up, wake up to the possibilities. Lift the most unfortunate and underprivileged along with you.

Belinda Brosnan shares her experience meeting Coumba, one of our incredible village partners in Senegal.

Three Epicentres reach self-reliance targets

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Three Epicentres in Africa have declared self-reliance – meaning the communities have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development… an amazing achievement.

Mesqan Epicentre in Ethiopia –  An outstanding example of the progress made in the community is that the prevalence of diarrhea in children under 5 decreased by 37%, to only 7% of children, thanks to work by trained volunteers to raise community awareness and increase access to safe water and sanitation. Congratulations to our partners at Mesqan Epicentre and our team in Ethiopia!

Kiboga Epicentre in Uganda –  There was an 86% decrease in the proportion of households in extreme poverty since the time of construction. Congratulations to our partners at Kiboga Epicentre and the team in Uganda!

Zakpota Epicentre in Benin  – The Zakpota community in Benin have successfully reduced hunger by 96% in the past 4 years! Congratulations to our partners at Zakpota Epicentre.

When people are empowered to become the solution to their own problems they emerge as courageous, innovative, leaders who create sustainable and lasting changes in their communities.

Image credit: Johannes Odé