Throughout Africa, The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy mobilizes the population of a cluster of villages within a 10km radius to create an “epicenter,” or a center from which community-led development emanates to the surrounding areas. Through this fully integrated development strategy, community members establish and manage their own programs to address food security, nutrition, health, education, microfinance, water and sanitation. Epicenters follow four distinct phases over a period of about five to eight years on a path toward to sustainable self-reliance. Zakpota Epicenter has graduated to Self-Reliance, meaning that in that cluster of villages, community members have demonstrated their confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development, as evidenced by the presence of: 1. Mobilized 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. Targets set through THP's robust Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation workshops empower community members to identify real goals and meet concrete objectives that are transparently tracked. Outcomes are tracked at the household level through mobile data collection, and are complemented with ongoing output data collection and annual operational assessments ("snapshots") to provide a complete understanding of community progress towards its targets. The community has affirmed multiple local partnerships, has funding streams from revenue-generating activities and relies on its gender-balanced leadership structures for sustainable growth. Zakpota epicenter serves 24 villages with a total population of 62066 women, men and children in the Zakpota commune of Benin.
The Hunger Project promotes a holistic approach to food security, and many of its activities contribute to increased access to sufficient food but also improved diets, greater nutritional variety and stronger ties to local resources. For example, epicenter preschools provide hot, nutritious meals to students and epicenter rural banks offer loans and savings products that often increase the amount and quality of food at the household level. Most importantly, THP trains animators, who, with support from existing local and government institutions (farmers’ cooperatives, agricultural extension workers) hold trainings in farming technologies (row planting, field rotation), seed and soil types, and low-input yield-improving techniques (organic compost, microdose fertilizer application). The trainings take place at the epicenter demonstration farm, where crops are grown for consumption by the community and distribution to local school meal programs.
Additionally, THP implements an Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund. Through this fund, participating local farmers access seed and fertilizer loans at the start of the planting season. These loans are repaid post-harvest through in-kind reimbursement of bags of grain. This grain can then be sold at a fair price to the community over the lean season, not only improving food security but also re-capitalizing the loan fund for future lending. Lastly, THP works with each community to construct a secure and treated community food bank, which can store the harvest from the demonstration farm, reimbursements from the Agriculture Revolving Loan Fund, and even individual harvests for safe-keeping. The food bank is managed by a local Food Security Committee, which oversees the operations of the entire program; each committee is made up of equal numbers of men and women and is democratically elected by the epicenter populations.
Economic Recovery & Development, Education, Environment, Gender, Health, HIV/AIDS Nutrition, Water Sanitation & Hygiene
- Economic Recovery and Development
- Water Sanitation and Hygiene