Proposed Federal Budget 2018 Fails to Defend the World’s Most Vulnerable Persons

 

Lobby Day Feat Image

On June 13, three of The Hunger Project’s DC team members joined over 500 people to meet with congressmen and women on issues of hunger and poverty as part of Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Lobby Day brings together NGOs, church groups, and individuals from all over the US to spend a day advocating on The Hill in Washington, D.C.for anti-hunger and poverty legislation. With the proposed 2018  federal budget – which includes cuts to health care and food assistance programs – this year’s Lobby Day was especially important in making heard the voices of those whose human rights could be most compromised. 

Participants in Lobby Day made three important requests in the fight to end suffering:  

1. Oppose any budget cuts that would increase hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

In the United States, 1 in 8 families are food insecure and 1 in 6 children are at risk of living in hunger. Around the world, 800 million people are hungry and nearly 20 million people are facing starvation as a result of the famines in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

Federal budget allocations for nutrition are investments that will have economic benefits for our society. Representative Dan Donovan recently wrote an op-ed article about why cutting foreign aid is a mistake:

“In 2015 alone, 18 million children under five improved their nutritional intake thanks to support from U.S. programs. Children who get the right nutrition early are 10-times more  likely to overcome life-threatening childhood diseases. They are also more likely to achieve higher levels of education. Growing evidence also suggests a strong positive correlation between nutrition and lifetime earnings. Think of the impact — for every dollar invested in nutrition, we see a $16 return. If that’s not a smart, worthwhile investment, I don’t know what is.”

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Image courtesy of Bread for the World.

Donovan also argues the moral benefits of foreign aid, including US leadership toward a decrease in maternal and child mortality:

“…because of the U.S. commitment to reducing the child mortality rate, an estimated 100 million children have been saved since 1990. Additionally, maternal mortality rates have dropped 44 percent. Our support for measles and polio eradication efforts have rapidly reduced child deaths in even the most remote corners of the planet.”

We asked our congressmen and women to oppose these cuts, and instead support US leadership toward improved development that will not only save lives, but also improve livelihoods, and therefore mitigate migration and the security threat of recruiting extremist terrorists.

2. Fully fund domestic safety-net and international development programs that end hunger and poverty.

Foreign assistance is the soft power that binds US alliances and promotes global stability through decreased hunger and poverty. At less than 1% of the federal budget, international aid costs the United States a fraction of the cost of military interventions – which are typically short-term, inefficient and unsustainable.

FY2018
Image courtesy of Oxfam.

Domestic safety nets, such as SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), Medicaid, refundable tax credits, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) nutrition program, and summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) also risk major budget cuts. Basic provisions provided by these programs allow families to prevent hunger while getting “back on their feet” and breaking out of the cycle of poverty. In an effort to bolster the US economy, Congress must fully fund safety-net programs that eliminate hunger and poverty amongst Americans.

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Image courtesy of Bread for the World.

3. Oppose harmful structural changes to SNAP, Medicaid, and international development assistance.

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TANF: A block grant study. Image Courtesy of Bread for the World.

Congress has proposed structural changes such as block grants and per capita caps that shift the cost of domestic safety-net programs to states. This allows states to determine how much funding to provide to those eligible for SNAP, Medicaid, and refundable tax credits. As a result, the most vulnerable people may not receive the proper amount of life-saving assistance they need. We insisted that Congress oppose these structural changes and stand up for our fellow citizens in dire need.

“By slashing our foreign aid budget, we risk undoing 30 years of remarkable progress.” – Rep. Dan Donovan

After Lobby Day

You do not need to go to The Hill in D.C. to seek congressional support in opposing the proposed cuts to the FY18 federal budget. Phone calls, letters, and emails make a powerful impression on your senators and representatives. Hearing from organizations, congregations, and constituents  will influence the way our elected congressmen and women vote. Your voice can help end hunger and poverty.

For more information on how to contact your senator or representative, please visit the following websites.

What to say to your congress men and women: http://bread.org/sites/default/files/virtual-lobby-day-call-script-june-2017.pdf?_ga=2.188894315.1365439319.1497472412-1786586522.1487878423

Find your representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Find your senators: https://www.senate.gov/reference/common/faq/How_to_correspond_senators.htm

 

Featured image courtesy of EURACTIV.

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.

Advocating for Youth Leadership to Achieve the SDGs

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Mary Kate Costello addresses youth attendees of 2017 Winter Youth Assembly.

In keeping with The Hunger Project’s priority to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through community-led development, advocacy for youth leadership and engagement has been at a forefront. The Hunger Project took a leading role in both the United Nation’s 6th Annual Youth Forum and the Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations at the beginning of February 2017.

Follow-up: Click here to read Mary Kate’s article on young women’s cooperatives.

The Hunger Project’s Senior Policy Analyst, Mary Kate Costello, has been an active member of the United Nation’s Interagency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, and is now co-chair of its new Task Force on Young Women’s Economic Empowerment. Such engagement afforded The Hunger Project the opportunity to chair two sessions during the Youth Forum: breakout sessions on SDGs 2 and 5.

Mary Kate participated in the SDG5 session as a panelist, focusing on the importance of young women-led cooperatives, especially at the grassroots. Not only will cooperatives provide improved income generation for young women, but also offer unique social inclusion – especially for marginalized persons such as those with disabilities and indigenous women. Mary Kate stressed Coop UK’s research that cooperatives have an 80% success rate in their first five years compared to 40% for other economic initiatives and investments. Discussion during the breakout session included hindrances to gender equality in the economy as a result of both discriminatory laws and discriminatory practices that do not adhere to favorable laws for women. One such example noted was Ghana’s policies entitling women and men to have the same allowances in owning land. However, this is not reflected in the percentage of land owned by women. Approximately 15% of men own land in Ghana, whereas less than 10% women own land.[1]

The Hunger Project, as a leader in integrated community-led development, was asked to moderate one of the Youth Forum’s Media Zone Panels. Mary Kate Costello engaged with three youth leaders about their work toward SDG2, ending hunger, in their respective home countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, and Colombia. Issues covered included how to encourage youth interest in agriculturally focused employment, mobile phone technology and grassroots capacity assessments and rehabilitation of abandoned fisheries to generate exponential income. The full panel is available here.

The week rounded off with chairing and speaking in the Winter Youth Assembly

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Winter Youth Assembly attendees discuss their leadership initiatives toward SDGs 1 and 2.

interactive session on SDG1, ending poverty. The Hunger Project, alongside cohosts Campus Kitchens Project and FeelGood, looked
at existing youth-led initiatives toward ending hunger that mitigate poverty. The United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delivered the keynote address via their Lead Technical Specialist, Mattia Prayer Galletti, challenging that youth development need not only include youth in program design and implementation, but more important youth leadership in both aspects.

The Hunger Project, out of its pillar to empower women, is an organizing partner of the upcoming CSW Youth Forum from 10 – 12 March 2017, and will be featured in a plenary panel on the topic of young women-led cooperatives again. This year’s CSW Youth Forum is the second of its kind, chaired by UN Women and YWCA, as a youth-focused “opening” to the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. The Hunger Project will maintain its engagement in the arena of youth development and leadership as a key element of community-led programming to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

[1] http://news.trust.org/item/20160516120134-jqvsx

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.

IFPRI and Partners Release 2015 Global Hunger Index

IFPRI

According to the 2015 Global Hunger Index (GHI), a joint publication by IFPRI, Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe, significant progress has been made in decreasing levels of global hunger. The 2015 GHI for the developing world fell 27 percent from the 2000 GHI. However, the levels of hunger in the world are still unacceptably high, with 795 million people going hungry, one in four children affected by stunting, and 9 percent of children are affected by wasting.

For the last ten years, IFPRI has calculated the GHI in order to chart progress over time and country by country. This is the tenth year that IFPRI has calculated the GHI, with an interactive map showing where hunger levels are most dire.

More than 13 million people were uprooted due to violence in 2014. Conflict has forced 42,500 people per day to flee their homes. More than 40 countries have been affected by internal conflict since 2000, most dealing with multiple civil wars within the last decade. These conflicts deeply affect human welfare, trapping citizens in a cycle of poverty. Countries suffering from repeated and protracted conflict are more likely to experience higher levels of malnutrition, reduced access to education, and higher infant mortality rates than a more stable country.

It is unsurprising that the first two of the three countries with the highest index numbers – the Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia – are experiencing persistent violent conflict and instability. Due to insufficient data, indexes could not be created for some of the world’s most dire situations, such as Libya, Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.

Conflicts in areas such as Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan have presented complex situations with a shifting nature to the conflict that make peace settlements challenging. This year’s report has drawn a direct linkage between regions where poverty is most severe and persistent and armed conflict. In order to properly address the implementation of this year’s UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the international community must find durable and long-lasting solutions to conflict in order eliminate food insecurity.

Below is a chart of index numbers from The Hunger Project’s program countries.

Country 1990 1995 2000 2005 2015
Benin 46.1 42.6 38.2 33.3 21.8
Burkina Faso 53.0 46.1 48.4 49.6 31.8
Ethiopia 71.1 67.3 58.6 48.5 33.9
Ghana 45.7 36.8 29.9 23.3 15.5
Malawi 58.9 55.9 45.3 39.1 27.3
Mozambique 64.5 63.2 49.2 42.4 32.5
Senegal 36.8 36.9 37.9 28.5 23.2
Uganda 39.8 40.9 39.3 32.2 27.6
Bangladesh 52.2 50.3 38.5 31.0 27.3
India 48.1 42.3 38.2 38.5 29.0
Mexico 16.8 16.9 10.8 8.9 7.3
Peru 30.7 25.0 20.9 18.8 9.1

Youth Leadership and Voice in Post 2015: UN Resolution 2250

Youth Representative of Burkina Faso and Restless Development, Cheick Faycal Traore, meetings at the United Nations with The Hunger Project, the Government of the Philippines and MCC to discuss youth in community-led development.
Youth Representative of Burkina Faso and Restless Development, Cheick Faycal Traore, at the United Nations with The Hunger Project, the Government of the Philippines and MCC.

It is not new knowledge that half of the world’s population is made up of persons under the age of 35, the majority of whom are youth older than 15. As the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals near, the world will be responsible for achieving sustainable development within only fifteen years. In the absence of the estimated two trillion dollars per year to realize the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, development initiatives must be implemented efficiently and – ideally – through community leadership to reduce loss of money from trickle-down approaches. Volunteerism, local capacity building, local and youth leadership and community mobilization will be necessary, not optional.

The United Nations has keenly prioritized youth leadership and youth mobilization to not only implement the SDGs, but to also establish youth’s rightful ownership over their communities’ and nations’ development. Without their ownership and engagement for both current and future leadership in alignment with the SDGs, the goals are at a serious risk of not being achieved by 2030 – a window of development opportunity that may very well be the last to ensure stable security and the eradication of hunger and poverty forever.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 2.32.24 PMTherefore, on December 9, 2015, The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2250 to emphasize the importance of youth leadership and inclusion to achieve peace and security worldwide. The approach? Youth (ages 18-29) representation for decision making – at all levels – must be increased.In my opinion, this is the most important Resolution adopted by the Security Council since Resolution 1325 in 2000, which similarly acknowledged the need for increased inclusion of women in peace building processes due to the unique gender roles of increasing warfare. Like women, youth account for a significant number, if not majority, of civilians affected by armed conflict and living as refugees or displaced persons. In under 10 minutes, Resolution 2250 was adopted, proving that the Security Council finds it significantly less advantageous to “marginalize” a majority population that has significant capability than leverage and include them as a priority resource for peace and security. A lack of youth leadership and representation poses the risk of losing youth to other priorities such as joining rebel groups or contentment with helplessness.

The millennial generation is uniquely positioned on the global stage amidst globalized technological communication and exposure to improved living standards or policies through available internet connections. Millennials living in extreme poverty are arguably the first from which a majority are rejecting a rural livelihood built on agriculture, instead opting for informal or illegal employment in more urban settings or internet means. They are at a higher risk than youth of any previous generation to be recruited in greater numbers by terrorists or rebels through exploitation of internet access and other forms of modern communication (i.e. texting hot lines). They are also at a significant risk of long-term unemployment and continued poverty should they not be included in the discourse of development plans, from which we risk their disagreement with approaches or priorities to achieve the SDGs. These are risks we must mitigate.

Beyond what I consider to be a moral imperative of the inclusion of a youth voice – at all levels – in peace building and dispute resolution, it is to the world’s economic advantage that UN Member States implement Resolution 2250 [promptly] into practice, establishing conducive policies if need be. Especially for those nations whose conflict has hindered youth education and employment opportunities, their inclusion in decision making will undoubtedly positively impact economic prosperity as solutions are deliberated and established together through the lens of youth and their desires for development.

What is the role for development actors such as foundations and CSOs to contribute to this process? Firstly, advocating for 1) meaningful implementation of Resolution 2250, and; 2) the establishment of relevant policies. Advocate also for the implementation of development initiatives, ideally in partnership with [local] government, that provide opportunities for youth leadership, education, employment and vocational training to motivate positive youth engagement and contribution to society. Lastly, I encourage the design and implementation of locally-led, youth-centered development initiatives that empower youth with leadership skills, dispute resolution skills, seat quotas within relevant committees, and program design input and leadership. Positive engagement and outcomes thereof will not only be an example to governments and multilateral implementers of the positive impact of youth leadership and inclusion in discourse, but will also increase the number of youth engaged in development practices in the absence of government or others’ capacity to scale-up initiatives.

Youth have experiences to share, ideas to discuss, opinions to contribute in discourse and a unique capability given their available time, especially in the absence of employment or education. They are driven to seek and enact change due to their interconnectedness and lifestyle exposures through globalized technological communication. Youth are not the leaders of the future; they are able to be leaders now. Their risks and tribulations are issues of the present, and likely to worsen without their inclusion in development and peace building leadership. Just in time for the start of the SDGs, Resolution 2250 was adopted and must be duly implemented and recognized by all actors if we need to achieve sustainable development by 2030.

Inter-Epicenter Exchanges to Strengthen Local Leadership

THP-SenegalThe Hunger Project-Senegal has initiated an approach associated with The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy. Senegal was the first African country of intervention for The Hunger Project, starting in 1991. THP-Senegal continues to build sustainable community-based programs using the Epicenter Strategy. The strategy was devised in Africa, by Africans, and for Africans. To date, it has been applied to all eight program countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching 1.6 million people across Africa.

For more than 20 years, the Epicenter Strategy has proven to be an effective, efficient and replicable model to achieve sustainable development. The program takes approximately eight years over four phases: 1) training to mobilize communities to commit to creating positive change, 2) construction of the Epicenter building, 3) implementation of community programs, the implemented programs address the needs of the community, like health, food security, education, agriculture, and household finance and; 4) transition to self-reliance.

THP-Senegal added an Inter-epicenter Exchange Visit to increasingly advance local leaders’ capacities. The initiative will serve as a liaison for Epicenter leaders to exchange practices and various techniques with other Epicenter leaders to obtain knowledge and ideas at the same time rectify faults and dysfunctions perpetrated as they sustain for the accomplishment of their goal.

The Inter-epicenter Exchange Visit is composed of two phases: 1) participants welcome the words and presentation of distinguished leaders from other Epicenters, 2) participants attend a thematic workshop specifically about important issues  and programmatic components of THP-Senegal such as mobilization and leadership, health and nutrition, food safety, environment and sanitation, monitoring and evaluation, microfinance, income generating activities, and gender and women empowerment.

Leaders that participated in the exchange visits have expressed that they have learned a lot from discussing activities of their partner Epicenters in the many workshops. It has also spawned discussion among Epicenter leaders to exchange agricultural products such as millet, groundnuts, rice, and cowpeas,  between Epicenters of the north and center. They believe this would strengthen partnership linkages between communities of partner Epicenters in THP-Senegal and help to expand local economies and subsequent opportunities

The greening of Epicenters initiative was another lesson assimilated by the leaders generated from the environment and sanitation workshops. They have agreed to the tree planting initiative by Epicenters Ndéreppe, Dinguiraye and Coki to continue the tree planting efforts to their respective communities.

Leaders strongly acknowledged the importance of sanitation and latrines, especially in consideration of community members’ comfort in hosting visitors. The leaders also realized the CLTS (Community-Led Total Sanitation) approach appeared to be simple and accessible to the communities.

The leaders expressed that the Inter-epicenter Exchange Visit was a strong moment of sharing and cooperation with partner Epicenters. With all the information exchanged from one leader to the other, they hope to follow and implement the lessons they have assimilated during the visit, and as they wait for the following gathering at the end of the year, they are committed to advance their respective communities’ capacities with respect to the Inter-epicenter Exchange Visit initiative.

The Development of communities is not a one-size fits all philosophy therefore it is not imperative for communities to replicate the activities and strategy of its partner communities, but exchange of ideas opens the door of possibilities and opportunities for communities to grow. One community’s insight could foster advanced inputs and innovation to other communities.


THP-Senegal’s Inter-epicenter initiative would be a great practice to pilot in other program countries because it promotes stronger partnerships between communities. The leaders who have participated in the initiative have also testified that the meeting renewed their interest and alleviated their drive for progress and innovation. The practice of exchanging information with other communities also highlights gaps or hindrances that possibly jeopardizes progress, therein safeguarding progress and ensuring sustainability from activities.