Visit by a CNN Hero!

December 17, 2018 – The Hunger Project hosted a CNN Hero Reception and Round Table on Young Women’s Empowerment and Employment in Nigeria. Our special guest was Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, Founder and CEO of Pearls Africa Foundation.

Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is one of the 2018 top 10 CNN’s Heroes of the Year (click here to see her in action in Nigeria!) for her work to bridge the gender divide in Nigeria’s growing technology sector.  A computer programmer by training, Abisoye left her successful career in Lagos, Nigeria’s “Silicon Valley” where Google and Facebook have set up offices, to found the Pearls Africa Foundation.  She hopes that through her foundation she will be able to break the cycle of poverty for girls by exposing them to new possibilities for career and life through coding and technology.

Pearls Africa Foundation helps girls transform their lives and achieve economic independence through ten educational and training programs in STEM+ that will enable their long-term participation in the economy.  The foundation provides functional skills such as technology training, coding and computer programming, entrepreneurship, and mentorship and internship placements to young girls living in slum villages of Lagos.

Core programs include:

  • Girls Coding – digital literacy training for girls age 7-17
  • Lady Labs – technology and shared work space
  • Empowered Hands – vocational training
  • Safe Space – mentorship and advocacy program
  • Community Outreach – community feeding program
  • Medical Outreach – free health care assistance
  • Educate Her – scholarship program
  • School Outreach – mentorship for secondary school aged girls
  • Internship Placement – pre-career opportunities with IT companies

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.

Achieving the SDGs in Africa

May 12, 2015 – The Hunger Project and the Nelson Mandela Foundation held a high-level dialogue on achieving the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa by 2030 in Johannesburg, South Africa tomorrow, May 12.

a (181)“Africa has taken the lead in developing continent-wide strategies for ending hunger and poverty within the framework of the SDGs,” said The Hunger Project’s Vice President for Africa Programs Dr. Idrissa Dicko. “The African Union has already set an ambitious target to end hunger by 2025, adopted an Implementation Strategy and Roadmap for 2025, and created a Common Africa Position on the Post-2015 Agenda. We want to use this opportunity for important stakeholders to each identify our highest leverage contributions toward these initiatives.”

Welcome remarks by Hunger Project board chair Steven Sherwood and acting CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Verne Harris.

Introductory remarks by Hunger Project President and Åsa Skogström Feldt highlighted our gender-focused approach to community-led development, and called for large-scale alliances to achieve the SDGs.

Introductory video message from Tom Arnold, acting coordinator of the SUN: Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

Keynote address by NEPAD’s CEO Dr. Mayaki delivered by Principle Programme Officer Mariam Sow Soumare.

Remarks by Athini Nyatela, community organizer of Restless Development, a youth-led organization.


Remarks by Sara Longwe, Consultant and Former Chair, Femnet.


Remarks by Nokuthula Mhene, Food Justice Expert, Oxfam-South Africa


Remarks by Henry Malumo, Advocacy Head, ActionAid-South Africa


Remarks by Jabu Ntsele, Corporate Social Investment Manager, Tiger Brands

Note – we regret that the video company was unable to record all the discussions.

Participants from across sectors — multilateral organizations, regional bodies, government, corporates, donor agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society and academia — reviewed the current framework for the SDGs and identified specific gaps where new initiatives can be taken.

The Hunger Project implements a gender-focused, community-led holistic development approach called the Epicenter Strategy in eight countries in Africa, reaching nearly two million people. “This dialogue will provide us with valuable strategic insights so we can adjust our program priorities in Africa and around the world for the coming years,” noted Dr. Idrissa Dicko.

The Hunger Project awarded Nelson Mandela its Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger in 1994, at a ceremony with Former US President Bill Clinton in Washington, DC, and is thrilled to be partnering with the Nelson Mandela Foundation for this meeting. Nelson Mandela Foundation Director of Research and Archive Verne Harris shared, “This is an excellent demonstration of honoring the legacy of Nelson Mandela, through convening dialogues for engagement around critical issues to promote social justice.”

Participants included: Steven J. Sherwood, The Hunger Project Global Board Chair; Åsa Skogström Feldt, The Hunger Project President & CEO; Verne Harris, Nelson Mandela Foundation Director of Research and Archive; and representatives from NEPAD, SADC, the UN, FAO, WFP, USAID, UN Women, Oxfam, ActionAid, World Vision, Tiger Brands and more.

Gender and Food Security: What Have We Learned?

On May 7, 2015 InterAction’s Agriculture and Food Security Working Group hosted a Learning Event designed to bring members up to speed with the latest evidence on the fundamental role of gender in food security, to empower us all in our advocacy. The video of the 90 minute event is here.


Katherine FritzKatherine Fritz, PhD, MPH, Director of Global Health Research and Interim Director of Gender, Economic Empowerment, and Livelihoods Portfolio, ICRW

Dr. Fritz has 20 years of experience as a social science researcher, strategic gender advisor and program developer. She works closely with other senior staff at ICRW to design and evaluate programs that address the overlapping needs of women and girls in areas of economic strengthening, health, freedom from violence, and leadership. Dr. Fritz has evaluated the strengths and gaps in corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment initiatives and led an assessment of Australian Aid’s women’s economic empowerment programs across several countries in Asia and the Pacific. She leads ICRW’s collaborations with the private sector on enhancing women’s economic status through formal employment, entrepreneurship and inclusion in global value chains.

Michael OSullivanMichael O’Sullivan, Economist, World Bank

Michael is an economist and the land thematic leader for the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab. He analyzes the impact of agriculture and land projects in Africa to identify ways to strengthen women’s economic empowerment. His current research centers on issues of gender in the economic sectors in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger and Uganda. Michael previously worked on USAID projects for Chemonics International and Mercy Corps, and served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. He holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Sylvia Cabus HSSylvia Cabus, Gender Advisor for the Bureau of Food Security and Feed the Future Initiative, USAID

Sylvia previously worked for Catholic Relief Services in Kenya, Morocco, Mali, and Burkina Faso. In the U.S., she worked as a program officer with Heifer International, Handicap International, and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. She also served as Gender Analyst with DevTech Systems, an international development consulting firm, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. Sylvia received an MA in International Relations from John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA with Honors in History from the University of California, Berkeley. She is from the Philippines, grew up in California, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Pat MorrisPat Morris, PhD, President, Women Thrive Worldwide

Dr. Morris previously managed a global portfolio of social and economic development projects at Development and Training Services, with a view to promote equality, accountability, and sustainability. She also served as Executive Director of Peace X Peace, a global network of peace-builders in 120 countries. Dr. Morris managed nine country offices in conflict-affected countries for Women for Women International, and was Deputy Director of the Commission on the Advancement of Women at InterAction. She also founded Creative Associate’s Center for Women’s Leadership in International Development and served as President of the Board of Directors of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Dr. Morris has worked closely with the U.S. Government to advance initiatives empowering women and girls. This included time as a team leader for USAID’s GBV Strategy Research Agenda Project and Project Director for the State Department assessing programs with marginalized populations.