SEATTLE — There are multiple solutions to ending world poverty but not all have a lasting impact like building sustainable communities does. Building schools to educate the future generation, giving aid and obtaining farmland are all good ways to help people in developing countries, but does not provide communities with any long term solutions. Building sustainable communities provides people with the solutions and tools necessary to help their own communities from the inside.
The Hunger Project
One organization building sustainable communities is The Hunger Project (THP). The Hunger Project believes in creating strategies, mostly lead by women, that will build communities and advocate for others to do the same. With their impact reaching to 22 different countries and helping over 16,000 communities THP is a global organization that believes in a holistic approach that uses innovative strategies to create an impact.
Their approach starts with empowering people to be leaders in the community and teaching them skills necessary to lead people. The Hunger Project mostly focuses on empowering women to be leaders. THP does this by providing food farmers access to adequate training, including instilling the idea of saving their money.
Additionally, THP has a program which allows women to engage in incoming-generating activities that will both increase their income while also investing in others in their community. THP also sets up workshops that teach people about health and gender equality.
A successful example is the Women’s Leadership Workshop in India that empowered 83,000 women to form the district and statewide federations, ensuring that their voices would be heard at upper levels of government. Another successful THP program was the National Girl Child Day, which focuses on ending discrimination against girls in Bangladesh, and is honored every September by 800 events that are conducted across the country.
The next step is to mobilize others to take action. THP does this by training others with skills needed to contribute to their communities. The Vision, Commitment Action Workshop allows people to learn what actions they can take in order to achieve a vision they have for their future community. Each person has a project to work on for the next three months based on what local resources are available.
Because of this workshop, 78,000 women in India that were elected as representatives are bringing water, healthcare and education to their villages. In Africa, more than 100 villages have launched projects, called Epicenter Strategy, that generate income to build classrooms, food storage and nurse quarters.
Engaging the Local Government
The final step is to engage the local government to work with these initiatives and be coherent with the communities needs and wants. THP lobbies for state and national law changes that will benefit people of the community and allow people’s voices to be heard. In Mexico, THP trains government employees to work with citizens to achieve local priorities.
In Africa, the local government is involved in the Epicenter Strategy so that when buildings are built the government provides nurses, teachers and supplies.
This is just one set of strategies to building sustainable communities but all strategies have three things in common; teaching leaders necessary skills, mobilizing others to be a part of the community and having a system that is supported overall. Because of sustainable practices of the THP, communities around the world are profiting and becoming more stable.
The more communities that prosper, the fewer communities that will be in poverty.
– Deanna Wetmore