Top 10 Policies for Civil Society Engagement

June 28, 2017: The Hunger Project recommends that international governmental organizations (IGOs) adopt the following practices for effectively engaging with civil society as an essential element of good governance:

  • Major Groups: IGOs should utilize a framework like the major groups defined by the UN, rather than dealing with civil society as a single category. IGO should ensure that youth, women, farmers, indigenous people, organized labor and others from the Global South express their own voices in addition to that of INGOs.
  • Democratic Selection:  Civil society should select their own representatives in consultative processes through an inclusive, democratic process rather than having representatives chosen by the IGO.
  • Mainstream Participation: Civil society representatives should have a seat at the table, with equal voice alongside government representatives. Civil society representatives should be allowed to be present and participate in intergovernmental negotiations.  Good examples: the GAFSP Steering Committee and the Committee on Food Security/Civil Society Mechanism.
  • Existing Networks:  Civil society is best equipped to prepare and provide coherent recommendations through its existing, regularized networks, not through ad-hoc work groups of individual organizations. IGOs should avoid establishing “their own” civil society groups and processes.
  • Travel Funding: For IGOs to legitimately include perspectives of civil society from the Global South at meetings, they must allocate sufficient travel and accommodation funds for Global South representatives.
  • Mandates to Offices: Civil society participation should be a mandated priority of regional and local offices, and not optional depending on local leadership. It should be regularized in a transparent manner, held at times and places that work for all stakeholders and announced well in advance.
  • Early and Sustained Engagement: Civil society should be invited to engage as early as possible in the policy-making process, and be informed of a clear timeline to review and provide recommendations to draft statements including follow-up processes.
  • Caucus Facilities: At major meetings, IGOs should provide civil society with its own meeting rooms with adequate time and space for caucusing before and during official deliberations, in close proximity to the policy makers and the media.
  • Side Events: The prevailing competitive approach to side events is chaotic and counterproductive. Major groups should facilitate civil society in cooperatively organizing all side events, and conference organizers should provide an official, unified online schedule for both side and parallel events.
  • Updates and Information Flow: Email and web-based announcements and updates should uniformly reach all participants, both from governments and civil society. IGO websites should include email list subscription forms.

Photo: Civil society representative Josephine Atangana addressing the plenary of the Second International Conference on Nutrition, Rome, 2014. John Coonrod/The Hunger Project.

 

 

PNPM Progress: A Path Towards Sustainability in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Mandiri (PNPM), or National Program for Community Empowerment, is a government-led, multi-donor trust-funded pilot program, which is managed by the World Bank Group (WBG) and delivered through the PNPM Support Facility (PSF). Also funded by: AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government 

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Photo Credit: World Bank, PNPM (Peduli) Indonesia: Caring for the Invisible

 As the Government of Indonesia’s flagship community-driven development (CDD) program, PNPM strives to improve the socio-economic welfare of the poor and most marginalized groups by expanding opportunities through community consultation at all phases of the program, empowerment, and capacity building of civil society organizations (CSO). The key elements of PNPM-CDD programs include: community development, institution building, community block grants, strengthening local governance and partnerships, and technical assistance for program development

In working with numerous Indonesian and local CSOs and a handful of implementing partners, PNPM programs are currently active in roughly 6,000 sub-districts, 73,000 villages, and 33 provinces. Nearly Rp1.4 billion, which roughly equates to USD 21 million, is allocated to each village per year solely for development purposes. In the first year, PNPM programs helped nearly 12,000 marginalized individuals to build confidence, gain new livelihood skills and training, access information and public services, and to create new opportunities to participate in community life.

However, addressing the root drivers of social inclusion are not just about improving economic conditions, but about fully integrating individuals into every nook and cranny of civic life—increasing participation and breaking down social barriers by changing mindsets and reversing engrained stigmas. The Government of Indonesia realizes the marginalized are important and unappreciated assets (financial, labor, social), and often benefit less from public programs and poverty reduction schemes.

In this manner, local and national CSOs have a comparative advantage and are well positioned to empower marginalized groups to become more self-reliant and able to live dignified lives. CSOs work with a diverse range of marginalized groups in rural and urban Indonesia: female micro-entrepreneurs, street children, LGBTQ, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and people living with HIV/AIDS among others. Though CSOs have a limited financial capacity to provide services and activities such as mentoring and training, the PNPM has established grant making to mitigate the costs.

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Photo Credit: Source Unknown, PNPM Program Indonesia

PNPM programs have provided women, specifically, with business training and equipment, skills training, and loan arrangements to start businesses. As a result, women’s groups are now running laundries, phone card counters, food production, and coffee shops, for example. However, CDD programs in Indonesia could benefit from a thorough gender analysis needs assessment to identify which constraints women face particularly in a rural environment. Programs also need to collect and analyze disaggregated data between men and women, between rural and urban villages, and among communities, households, and individuals, to best target those in need and to measure participation. Affirmative action and inclusion of marginalized groups, such as women, must be addressed through quotas.

In 2015, the Government of Indonesia introduced the new Village Law, which is the new master framework for village development and community empowerment and embodies many of the aforementioned principles of the PNPM-CDD program. Although adopted and enacted to ensure sustainability of the PNPM programs, this framework also brings attention to the many challenges and implications it faces for future implementation.

Firstly, the programs must find a better, comprehensive way to measure accountability. Under the new law, the some 73,000 villages are seeing a large influx of resources from the government and outside funding agencies such as AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government. The district governments have low capacity to monitor the cash flows and implementation of village governments. Who will provide the accountability and oversight and perform the audits? Or, who will be responsible for strengthening the oversight? The programs need a strong monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ME&L) framework—built-in accountability targets and performance-based indicators—to ensure precise development results and to prevent elite capture of village transfers.

A community-led development (CLD) approach, however, introduces such social accountability measures, supporting regularized processes such as public forums, at which local governments can demonstrate transparency and accountability and citizens can review and challenge the progress of targets and goals. CLD also supports communities to generate and access timely, locally relevant data that informs priority setting and strengthens progress tracking.

Secondly, it is important to remember that an increase in resources does not necessarily equip the villagers with the skills and expertise needed to obtain jobs and administer good service delivery. CDD projects often do not benefit everyone and takes years to trickle down to the most marginalized groups. How do we streamline this process to ensure that the most vulnerable are receiving the resources?

Lastly, although the law provides a strong legal framework for mainstreaming PNPM-CDD principles in village socio-economic activities, it does not necessarily guarantee sound implementation in practice. The PNPM-CDD programs must be sustainable and fully integrated into the local system of government. The law does not specifically address what it can impact in the short term versus what it can affect in the long term, which is necessary to ensure sustainability and resiliency. PNPM-CDD programs could learn from the CLD’s approach to sustainability and resiliency.

The CLD approach addresses sustainability and resiliency by addressing challenging factors such as climate change and population growth and how this in turn puts strong pressures on rural areas. The CLD approach calls for a process that includes actions to ensure that a program and community are resilient to climatic, political, and economic shocks. Local communities must have a regularized process of disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness.

The PNPM-CDD programs in Indonesia are promising and making considerable progress. However, the programs can build upon this progress by introducing several key distinguishing principles introduced by the CLD approach, namely: a keen focus on facilitators as mobilizers and “agents of change” rather than “beneficiaries,” a gender-mainstreamed approach, built-in social accountability measures, timely and disaggregated data, strengthening legal existence through ME&L, and implementing sustainability and resiliency safeguards.

Decentralization: The Key to Local Development

Fiscal Decentralization and Development

Countries around the world are increasingly recognizing the impact fiscal decentralization can have on both national and community level development. Fiscal decentralization is characterized by a shift in financial responsibility from a central government to a local municipal government. Decentralization is a key element for development because it puts power back into the hands of community members. When local communities have the autonomy to control their own resource allocation and spending, they have a greater ability to fill the needs of their specific community than their centralized government. They tend to be more efficient at delivering public goods and services, which only increases the effectiveness of their local governance system. Development should happen at the community level, driven by the people who will keep their communities functioning and productive.

According to the World Bank (WB), decentralization can occur through several mechanisms, including local self-financing, co-financing or co-production, local taxes, monetary transfers from central governments, and/or municipal borrowing. Most importantly, measuring local fiscal autonomy and management must be included when evaluating a country’s level of decentralization . Decentralization goes beyond expenditure and resource allocation data; it must be considered in the context of who makes the decisions and at what level public goods are being delivered.

Unfortunately, most decentralization studies fail to address local fiscal autonomy. Many countries have limited to no data on the decision-making power of local government bodies compared to their central counterparts. Establishing a standard way to measure progress worldwide is the next crucial step forward in decentralization efforts.

Measuring Fiscal Decentralization

Decentralization data that accounts for local fiscal autonomy is difficult to find. However, several thorough sources of data capture not only countries’ fiscal autonomy data, but also dissect how this information relates to important global development outcomes.

In a report released in 2012 titled “How Close is Your Government to Its People?” the World Bank measures fiscal decentralization by: vertical fiscal gap, taxation autonomy, unconditional transfers to local government, expenditure autonomy, and borrowing freedom. These indicators allow countries to be profiled on a holistic level, providing accurate and usable data. Some of the top fiscally decentralized countries are Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, USA, and Denmark, while the bottom countries are Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Oman, and Samoa. This report also includes measures of political and administrative decentralization, as well as the meaning and measurement of the relative importance of local government.

Another great example of a measurement system comes from The Local Public Sector Initiative, a multi-organization collaborative project that determines how decentralization is contributing to individual countries’ efforts to achieve global development outcomes. The surveys include a variety of metrics, ranging from “Basic Country Information” to “Assignment of Functions & Expenditure Responsibilities”. Each country has a detailed profile of health and education expenditure background, sectoral decentralization, and development indicators. The researchers included the survey template and instructions alongside their completed country surveys, enabling an understanding of their framework. The survey accommodates countries with varying government structures, allowing for up to four levels of government to be evaluated. The twenty nine currently completed country surveys are a great start to a global standard of measuring fiscal decentralization.

The Next Steps in Decentralizing for Development

The most important next step in achieving fiscal decentralization is a steadfast commitment from communities, policy makers, and countries as a whole to make decentralization a reality. International efforts are not being widely adopted, and community members must advocate for their policy maker’s commitment to fiscal decentralization. For example, only nine countries in the African Union have signed the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance, and Local Development to date, delaying it being put into force. If a major international body like the African Union committed to fiscal decentralization, we would see large scale dramatic change in community-level development. Countries worldwide must make a commitment to decentralize their spending, balance their power and resources between all levels of government, and put autonomy into the hands of local community leaders. These efforts will pay off in achieving not only the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but also prosperity for communities at all levels.

 

Local Public Sector Initiative country-level data can be viewed here.

Featured image courtesy of The Hunger Project, United Kingdom.

 

 

Gender & Governance in rural India, Ghana, and Ethiopia

In 2010, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the World Bank (WB) conducted an analysis of agricultural extension and clean water access in rural areas in India, Ghana, and Ethiopia. The surveys were conducted in approximately 1,000 households in each country.

Access to agricultural extension varied across the three countries. There was reported moderate access in India and Ethiopia, and low access in Ghana. Agricultural extension services were reported as inconsistent in many areas and the quality of the service provided varied. Each country in the report had different apparent causes for the inadequate availability or poor quality of agricultural extension services. A common feature in every country was the gendered divide in access to agricultural extension services. Oftentimes, extension service workers did not talk to the women of the household and in some cases, there was a perception that women were not farmers and thus could not benefit from the extension services. Seemingly by default, the extension workers would speak only to the men of the household even if women were a part of the agricultural community in that region.

The IFPRI and WB report also investigated access to clean water in this study. India was reported to have high water access, Ghana had moderate access, and Ethiopia had low access to clean water. The decentralization of water access and maintenance in India most likely contributes to its high amount of clean water access. However, Ghana and Ethiopia do not report high disatisfaction rates even if water access is low. In addition to access, the survey also asked about maintenance and accountability to water systems. Regardless of rates of water access and happiness with water access, the share of households that reported dissatisfaction with their service (or lack thereof) to government officials or political representatives was low.

General recommendations for improving agricultural extension services and access to clean water address the gendered issues seen in every country. Some of suggestions are:

  • Looking at why rural services and solutions fail women: link gender-related efforts to general reform efforts and fix the perceptions that women are not farmers, or do not make agricultural decisions
  • There is a need to obtain gender-disaggregated data on access to services
  • Investigate the possibility of different kinds of community groups for services that are necessary for the entire population of the village or region: for instance, farmer-based organizations are good for targeting farmers but lack access to the entire population for promoting and ensuring clean water access=

IFPRI and the WB also recommended country-specific policy suggestions. There is an acknowledgement that agricultural extension services and clean water access are managed and maintained best by local actors. There have been efforts to decentralize these systems in all three countries, but there are recommendations to make the decentralization more effective.


India
To make decentralization as effective as possible, IFPRI recommends:

  • Creating structures to prevent elite capture of resources
  • Increasing gram panchayat administrative support
  • Making it easier for women to attend gram panchayat meetings

India has not hired new agricultural extension workers for more than a decade (in 2010) and capacity suffers because of this. Further recommendations include:

  • Hiring new extension workers as soon as possible will improve the quantity of farms an extension worker can visit and, hopefully with gender-sensitive training, can help bridge the gap between agricultural extension access between men and women
  • Re-establish the function of agricultural extension workers as a link between farmers and researchers.
  • Expanding extension workers roles even more- there is an opportunity for extension workers to organize inclusive farmer-based organizations and interest groups.

Suggestions for India’s clean water access focus mainly on making the water and sanitation systems more gender inclusive:

  • Getting more women involved in WASH committees
  • Including gender issues in WASH professionals’ training
  • Hiring more women
  • Focusing more on drainage

Ghana
Decentralization in Ghana has opportunities to be stronger. Some recommendations are gender focused:

  • Increasing the number of female district assembly members
  • Strengthening gender district focal points to ensure gender is a priority at the district level
  • Empowering district assembly members more
  • Strengthening the subdistrict structure, so as to aid district assembly members more effectively

Agricultural extension rates in Ghana are low. Improvements can be made by:

  • Better management practices
  • Focusing more on goals and outcomes of the agricultural extension workers
  • Increasing access to female farmers
  • Reconsidering the roles of farmer-based organizations to deliver agricultural extension services more effectively

Access to clean water is hindered by the misunderstanding around Ghana’s Water and Sanitation Committees (WATSANs). WATSANs have limited coverage, so expanding their capacity and strengthening their role in the accountability system is key for more effective implementation.

Ethiopia
Local government has a lot of potential in Ethiopia. The recommendations encapsulate the need for strengthening the capacity and skills of local government and supporting regional government as well. Additionally:

  • There are suggestions to better monitor local service delivery
  • Pay attention to the gender dimensions of service delivery and local leadership
  • Investigate the ruling party process and systems.

Currently agricultural extension services are narrowly focused and delivered from a very top-down approach. Promising strategies to make agricultural extension more effective are:

  • Giving extension workers more discretion
  • Extending coverage to where it is currently limited, like pastoral areas
  • Identifying innovative ways to bridge the gender gap in access to agricultural extension services

Ethiopia struggles with perceptions of clientelism in the delivery of public services. Effective delivery of gender-sensitive and inclusive water systems from water committees, and not political actors, will help make clean water more accessible and better maintained.

The book can be found in PDF form here.

Image courtesy of india.com

Building the Capacity of Youth as Leaders of Today -The Kampala Principles for Youth Led Development

Jon-Andreas Solberg and Douglas Ragan co-authored a very enlightening  post on UN-Habitat Youth covering five principles of youth-led development that are being utilized by youth programs globally and has begun to influence policy at the local, national and global level. These principles (listed below) originated from an initiative started in 2007 when representatives from  UN-Habitat´s One Stop Youth Resource Centres gathered together in Kampala, Uganda to discuss ways to promote and sustain the capacity for youth to operate as leaders today. The post leads to the key point that youthshould be recognized as key development partners and asset and rights-holders, just as anyone else, young and old, women and men.” 

Kampala Principles for Youth-led Development:

  1.        Youth define their own development goals and objectives;
  2.        Youth have a safe and generative physical space;
  3.        Adult and peer-to-peer mentorship;
  4.        Youth act as role models for other youth;
  5.        Youth are integrated into local and national development programs and     policies.

The full article, including a detailed look at each principle, can be found here.

Sustainable Development by 2030 Requires Community-led Development

“For us, then, to reach our twin goals, three things have to happen—inclusive economic growth, investment in human beings, and insurance against the risk that people could fall back into poverty. Grow, invest, and insure: that’s our shorthand for it…We reject “trickle-down” notions that assume that any undifferentiated growth permeates and fortifies the soil and everything starts to bloom, even for the poor.  We need to find an economic growth model that lifts up the poorest citizens rather than enriching only those at the top.”

-Jim Young Kim, President, World Bank Group address at the 2015 WB/IMF Annual Meetings

At the United Nations on September 30, over a dozen INGOs and other likeminded development stakeholders officially launched the Movement for Community-led Development during UNGA70. The motivation for this Movement stems from the need to push for an exponential increase in bottom-up development initiatives that mobilize and empower citizens as the key agents of change for their own development.

Co-hosted by the Government of the Philippines, featuring local representatives from the Kalahi-CIDSS program, the Movement launch yielded provocative discussion around the inefficiencies of prioritizing top-down development approaches and resource provisions [in the absence of humanitarian needs]. On the heels of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, there are already sobering concerns around the realistic capacity and resources to achieve all of the goals and targets by 2030. Experts from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Restless Development, Institute for State Effectiveness and Heifer International explained how the sweat equity from community-led development, notably youth and women, would undoubtedly provide crucial capacity to achieve the goals at all levels. 

The discussion included two prominent elements: 1) strengthening good, local governance for effective partnerships with communities, and; 2) integrated strategies to build the whole of communities and individuals.

Using the example of rebuilding infrastructure and effective service delivery in his community after Typhoon Haiyan, Mayor Pelagio R. Pecson Jr, of Tanauan, Leyte in the Philippines, one of Kalahi-CIDSS’ operational areas, explained how strides in community-led development built significant resilience to trauma and devastation in the wake of disaster. The accountability and leadership skills of citizens and their responsive local government meant shorter crisis and less costly crisis management to rebuild.

Heifer International’s Partnerships and Business Development Manager, Kamil Madanat, spoke specifically about the crucial need for integrated programming at the community level in order to break the cycle of poverty. Strategic interlinkages between sectors such as health, education, sanitation, improved agricultural techniques and food storage results in increased income due to healthier living standards and overall improvement in livelihoods. This includes decreasing time poverty, and expanding local economies through better market access and new value chain entry points. Kamil explained that the key implementers of these interventions were few others than trained community leaders and grassroots volunteers. He stated that “empowered communities will make better decisions,” defending that investment in human capital is greater than resource or monetary investments. John Coonrod, Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project added to this, saying that the “2030 agenda demands that people work together.”

While continuing the unveiling of the Movement for Community-led Development, Clare Lockhart, Founder and President of the Institute for State Effectiveness gave examples of how [at least] millions of crucial donor dollars are wasted as they “trickle down” from high-level and managerial positions through resources spent on program design without input or leadership from community members. Implementation and monitoring is then not only carried out in shorter time frames than from which significant impact can occur, but it often fails to fulfill intended goals due to poor applicability to the community and a lack of community ownership to ensure sustainability. One such example was the distribution of logs to repair and strengthen clay homes in rural Africa. The logs did not fit the existing home structures and time did not allow for complete reconstruction of the homes. The time and money intended to repair homes became fuel for local stoves; the people were still essentially homeless and the project did not yield a sustainable outcome.

Civil society and its most important partners – the local citizens for whom our work is intended – are increasingly demanding community-led prioritization from donors, bi-laterals and government funding agencies. This includes multi-sectoral funding streams, longer funding windows and flexible funding to ensure community ownership and leadership. This global call for action begins with the Movement for Community-led Development.

If your foundation, organization or company wants to join the Movement, please visit the site and submit your inquiry: www.communitydev.net

Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 1.08.18 PMThe United Nations’ much anticipated Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) has come and gone. Over four days, more than 6,000 high-level development actors gathered to discuss the needs and means to finance the implementation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda. What was declared as the final draft of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) left much to be desired, especially according to CSOs.

In the wake of the Zero Outcome Document of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, The Hunger Project and CONERN Worldwide‘s FfD3 side event, Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First, proves to be timely and crucially relevant. The Preamble of the Zero Outcome Document outlines five areas for intended outcomes by 2030: people, planet, poverty, prosperity and partnerships. The content states the need for integrated programming, cross-sectoral partnerships, leaving no one behind, and creating self-reliance for sustainable development. These points were key points made during the aforementioned FfD3 side event.

Chaired by Tom Arnold, coordinator ad interim of the SUN Movement, challenged attendees to consider grassroots, bottom-up development initiatives that place women at the center and prioritize partnerships with local governments. Orla O’Neill, Assistant Country Director of CONCERN Worldwide Ethiopia, spoke specifically about resilience-building and why it must be achieved at the community level. Orla noted the truest fact in development: poverty is complex and solutions must be designed accordingly at the local level. Much like her co-panelists’ affiliations, Orla explained that CONCERN integrates sectors of development and engages community members as partners and key stakeholders, rather than beneficiaries. CONCERN’s specific purpose around their efforts is “the ability of a community, to anticipate, respond to, cope with and recover from the effects of shocks and stresses that drive or exacerbate malnutrition in a timely and effective manner, without compromising their long-term prospects of moving out of poverty and hunger.” This is backed by the inalienable priority of communities being at the center of decision-making because of community members’ skills, experiences, opinions and closest understanding of their culture and needs.

Neguest Mekonnen, Country Director of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia provided the programmatic example of The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy. Focusing closely on the role of women and voluntary leadership roles in local community clusters, Neguest discussed the need to mobilize several communities together to leverage available resources and capacities in order for people to invest in and be agents of their own development. A cluster of communities yields strength in numbers in establishing strong social accountability mechanisms to hold local governments to account and successfully partner with them to fulfill basic human rights services in the long-term. In the Epicenter Strategy, this includes training of trainers in local communities to fulfill “animator” roles as HIV educators, literacy and numeracy teachers, agricultural farming technique teachers, advocates for healthy pregnancies and micro-finance committee leaders. Without these local leaders and community knowledge, the lynchpin in mobilizing and transforming mind sets from hopelessness to empowerment would be impossible.

What is the role of youth at the local level? Burkina Faso’s UN Youth Envoy for the Post 2015 Development Agenda joined the panel as a youth representative for Restless Development. Cheick, a young male and development leader of several NGOs, spoke about the critical role of leveraging the large youth population for leadership roles at the grassroots level to mobilize and positively impression youth, especially at the adolescent age. Telling examples of failed development attempts to construct desirable and central water pumping stations in a village, Cheick explained that such a shortcoming was due entirely to a lack of community decision making and youth leadership. Without awareness of cultural traditions and emerging changes as recognized by youth, development initiatives risk failure – and wasting money – when solely implementing based on “expertise” or data. Cheick stated that the reality is that “youth want to be agents of change, not passive recipients of action.”

Speaking on behalf of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States Government, Beth Tritter, Vice President of Policy and Evaluation spoke from the lens of a foundation that stemmed from the UN’s first Conference on Financing for Development in Doha. Beth explained that MCC aims to yield results that outlive investments through prioritizing country ownership and country implementation to adapt initiatives most appropriately to local conditions and needs. Two mutually benefitting strengths of MCC: strengthening good governance and investing directly in citizens. Beth also noted that MCC’s scope covers all sectors and seeks to work with a multitude of stakeholders to achieve a shared vision of sustainable development. From the CSO perspective, it is encouraging that a community-oriented foundation that results from the first FfD still operates today, proving to other donors that their approach is worth adopting.

Financing community-led development is not only appropriate, but economically and sustainably promising. To achieve this, panelists called for multi-sectoral funding streams for longer term programs – estimating between five and eight years – as well as flexibility to accommodate changes to maintain relevance. There was also a strong preference for funding that benefits collaboratives or alliances. Such groups bring a multitude of expertise across sectors and are accountable to one another to fulfill goals. Most importantly, financing community-led development must prioritize community decision-making, community ownership, and country ownership in the longer term. Development initiatives must mitigate dependency, providing hand ups, solutions, training and alleviating time. This will not be accomplished to the utmost through “trickle-down” funding, higher level decision making and exclusive resource provisions. Invest in empowerment, locals, women, youth and integrated, long-term programming is the means if the goal is truly sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Localizing the SDGs in Malawi

On May 15, 2015, The Hunger Project and World Vision co-hosted a nationally-broadcast panel discussion in Lilongwe on localizing the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals in Malawi. The focused and frank discussion resulted in significant commitments to greater partnership among five key groups of development actors.

The panelists include:

  • Chris Kang’ombe, Principal Secretary of the Malawi Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
  • Chancellor Kaferapanjira, president of the Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Gospel Kazako, Managing Director, Zodiak Broadcasting
  • Aubrey Chibwana, Executive Director, National Youth Council
  • Ronald Mtonga, Executive Director, CONGOMA: The Council of NGOs of Malawi

The discussion was moderated by:

  • Naile Salima, Advocacy Officer, World Vision-Malawi
  • Rowlands Kaotcha, Country Director, The Hunger Project-Malawi

In attendance were members of The Hunger Project Global Board of Directors who had traveled to Malawi for their annual meeting, and senior officials from UNDP, WFP, NEPAD, the EU and other agencies.

Our perspective on the Global Nutrition Report

2014 Global Nutrition Report CoverBackground: Nutrition is a huge and difficult challenge, requiring convergent action on many fronts: agriculture, health, WASH, education and – most importantly – gender equality and female empowerment. Those championing this action have been held back by the lack of timely data — until now. In the aftermath of the the 2013 Nutrition for Growth summit in London, civil society pressed for publication of a Global Nutrition Report to help hold countries accountable for their commitments, and now we have it. Lawrence Haddad has led an Independent Expert Group in preparing this first report, and everyone committed to ending world hunger should be familiar with it.

Purpose of this note: Here are a number of points particularly relevant to The Hunger Project’s advocacy.

  1. We strongly endorse the top 10 messages of the report (see page 71-72).
  2. The Post-2015 Agenda should be more ambitious on nutrition. Current drafts ratify most of the 2012 World Health Assembly (WHA) goals, which are not particularly ambitious (40% reduction in stunting by 2025) and are inconsistent with the Zero Goal philosophy of the SDGs.
  3. Gender-specific good news from India: Maharashtra, one of the richest states in India, reduced stunting from 36.5 percent to 24 percent from 2005-2006 to 2012. Improvements in women’s lives was key: “the determinants that improved the most were the age of mother at first birth, maternal under-weight, maternal literacy, coverage of antenatal visit, delivery in the presence of birth attendants, child feeding practices and access to ICDS (the Integrated Child Development Scheme).
  4. Malnutrition affects us all. Both undernutrition and obesity have terrible health and economic impacts, and both co-exist in most countries. We are all in this together. The report calls this the “quintessential 21st century challenge.”
  5. Five THP countries are not on course to meet a single WHA target: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique. On track for one target are: Ethiopia, India, Malawi, Mexico and Senegal. For two: Peru and Uganda.
  6. More attention is needed on participation and local governance. The report mentions decentralization as a challenge for national accountability and points to promising experience in Indonesia and Guatemala, but The Hunger Project sees it as key to effective implementation. More in-depth study of how this can best be achieved would be useful, particularly how communities can build their own capacity and measure and track their own progress. The report points out that “the impact of [participatory] mechanisms on provision of nutrition services has not been empirically evaluated.”
  7. Importance of going to scale. Improving society-wide conditions requires society-wide action, not small projects. Governments and civil society groups need to work together on a campaign footing to ensure that clear, consistent information reaches everyone. Educating local-level leaders to be nutrition champions who understand the linkages to WASH and gender needs to be a top priority.

Top 10 Messages from the GNR:

  1. People with good nutrition are key to sustainable development.
  2. We need to commit to improving nutrition faster and build this goal into the Sustainable Development Goal targets for 2030.
  3. The world is currently not on course to meet the global nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly, but many countries are making good progress in the target indicators.
  4. Dealing with different, overlapping forms of malnutrition is the “new normal.”
  5. We need to extend coverage of nutrition-specific programs to more of the people who need them.
  6. A greater share of investments to improve the underlying determinants of nutrition should be designed to have a larger impact on nutritional outcomes.
  7. More must be done to hold donors, countries, and agencies accountable for meeting their commitments to improve nutrition.
  8. Tracking spending on nutrition is currently challenging, making it difficult to hold responsible parties accountable.
  9. Nutrition needs a data revolution.
  10. National nutrition champions need to be recognized, supported, and expanded in number.

Elements of the Post-2015 Political Declaration

The United Nations has invited comment on its draft document on the Elements of the Post-2015 Political Declaration, available at this link. Our president and CEO addressed the intergovernmental interactive session on 19 February 2015: click to download the Statement by Åsa Skogström Feldt.

Here is an expanded version of The Hunger Project’s response to the paper, according to the five components it sets out.

The Hunger Project strongly endorses the call for a bold and transformative agenda, all 17 goals called for by the Open Working Group, and the synthesis into six elements articulated by the Secretary-General. What is missing, in our view, is the recognition that achieving the SDGs will be a bottom-up process.

1. A Collective Vision of the Road to 2030: People Are the Answer

  • Empower the people: Our vision must recognize that to build the world we want, we must create a world of opportunity – programs and policies that empower every women, man and child to be the authors of their own development. People living in poverty are not the problem – they are the solution. They must not be treated as target populations or beneficiaries, but as hard-working, intelligent individuals who – when empowered with opportunities – can overcome poverty and preserve our natural environment.

2. What We Must Do to Get There: Gender-Focused, Community-led Development

  • Start with women: To eradicate poverty and sustain the environment, we must start with women. Women are the majority living in poverty, do more than their share of the work to meet basic needs, and so must be the key decision makers and change agents in the development process.
  • Mobilize Everyone: While we deeply value the result implied by the phrase “leave no one behind” it could be interpreted in a paternalistic way. The real point is to empower everyone – to awaken everyone to what can be done to create the world we want, and organize them for effective action.
  • Engage Local Government: Where poverty and environmental degradation is most severe, it is because grassroots level government is starved for resources and decision-making authority – and where communities are denied voice and the opportunity of social accountability. Forging strong, accountable partnerships between grassroots people and effective local government is key to success.

3. How Will We Do This: Participatory Local Democracy

  • All of the inextricably linked issues in the SDGs (eg: health, education, nutrition, natural resource management and sustainable economic development) require gender-focused, community-led development. National and sub-national government and all other partners must take steps to create the conditions for community-led development to succeed. This includes:
    • Empower Active Citizenry: ensuring that people’s rights to information, to assembly, and to participation in government are protected and strengthened.
    • Apply Subsidiarity: human dignity, inclusion and social harmony are enhanced when planning, decision-making and resources and moved as close to the people as possible.
    • Plan with all stakeholders: long-term planning for sustainable community development requires all relevant stakeholders to be at the table.

4. Follow-up and Review: Data for the People

  • Localizing the SDGs: National and International statistics and reviews are important, but are insufficient to inspire and focus community-led development. Data collection must be local, and aggregated upwards, so that community actors can set their own priorities and track their own progress.

5. Our Commitment: Mobilize Everyone

  • No time to lose: Our commitment must begin with a massive and urgent campaign to inform, educate and inspire everyone on the planet to join in this extraordinary human endeavor. Governments, Civil Society and especially the media have important responsibilities to get the implementation off the ground as quickly and comprehensively as possible. “We the peoples” created these goals through the most inclusive policy-making process in history – and 1000-times that many people need to hear about them, understand them, and see the pathway through to their own unique contributions.