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THE HUNGER PROJECT: Empowering Rural Women and Girls

Peer educators in Iganga where THP-U is supporting Her Choice Project (THP Photo)

This year, The Hunger Project Uganda (THP-U) joins the rest of country to celebrate the International Women’s Day — acknowledged by the United Nations every year on March 8. Under the theme — Empowering rural women and girls; challenges and opportunities — the day will be celebrated in Mityana District this year.

The Hunger Project Uganda stands in solidarity with women across Uganda and the rest of the developing world to celebrate the day. Empowering women to be key change agents is the most critical element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty and the work programs of the Hunger Project Uganda aim to support women and build their capacities in critical skills and output areas.

According to Dr. Daisy Owomugasho, the country director THP-U, issues of gender equality are now being championed by governments, international agencies and civil society throughout the world.
The Hunger Project Uganda, therefore seeks to support women by building their capacity and ensuring their voices are heard and influence felt both in their own communities and outwards.

Studies across the World by United Nations show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits — their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase at household level.

The Hunger Project Uganda is a global, non-profit, strategic organisation committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.
All programs under the project have in their foundation three essential elements — empowering women as key change agents, mobilising communities for self-reliant action and fostering effective partnerships with local government.

Background to The Hunger Project Uganda (THP-U)

The Hunger Project Uganda (THP-U) was launched in 1999 with the aim of mobilising and empowering Uganda rural communities to end their own hunger and poverty. Currently THP-U works in 9 districts of Uganda namely Iganga, Kiboga, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Mbale, Mpigi, Butambala, Wakiso and Kyankwanzi. Within these 9 districts, THP-U operates in 10 clustered villages known as Epicenters.

THP-U uses the Epicenter strategy, an integrated methodology that builds people’s capacity to successfully access basic services or programs needed to end hunger. These programs include, Community mobilisation, Agricultural production and Food security, Microfinance, Women empowerment, Health and Nutrition, Functional Adult Literacy, Early Childhood development, Environment, Water and Sanitation and Public Awareness, Advocacy and Alliance.

The girl-child:

One of the key programmes of The Hunger Project Uganda is mitigating the negative effects of child marriage by empowering the girl-child.

Whereas Uganda has committed to addressing all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls and ratified various global and regional conventions and declarations that prohibit such discrimination and violence not much has been done in regard to putting in place practical initiatives that explicitly protect children from child marriage.

This gap has persisted in spite of child protection being a core government responsibility as articulated in the various development plans, policies and strategies like the National Strategy on Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy (NSCM&TP) and other sector policies and strategic plans.

The Hunger Project Uganda thus provides safe and empowering environments where girls feel supported by their families, their schools, their community and the local government, and where joint efforts for sustainable economic improvement are being made, provide girls and young women the possibility to choose for a better future.

Her Choice:

Under the flagship Her Choice programme, The Hunger Project Uganda has developed six intervention strategies based on evidence, which shows that the most consistent results of targeting child marriages are achieved by fostering information, skills and networks for girls in combination with community mobilisation. And the strategies focus on both areas of increasing girls’ control in decision making and local choice ownership that include;

  1. Investing in girls, their knowledge, skills related to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and participation in society: enhancing their comprehension of the negative effects of child marriage and of alternative options.
  2. Keeping girls in school: improving access to formal education for girls by supporting girl-friendly schools and building knowledge through schooling in general, and on SRHR in particular.
  3. Improving access to youth-friendly SRHR services for girls: improving health services by actively referring girls to health workers.
  4. Strengthening the economic security of girls and their families: creating and supporting women’s self- help groups with training and access to (financial) re- sources.
  5. Transforming social norms and traditional practices: mobilizing and supporting communities, including boys, men, women, leaders to promote girls’ rights and gender equity, to achieve gender equity in education, decision making, and access to services.
  6. Creating an enabling legal and policy environment on preventing child marriage: supporting traditional leaders and (local) authorities to enforce national policies on preventing child marriage.

While local ownership involves the following

The Hunger Project Uganda supports communities to take full responsibility for ending child marriage and local ownership is the key factor to achieve sustainable results. We encourage local organisations, community networks, women’s groups, schools and SRHR-service providers as the implementing actors to ensure that strategies are locally embedded.

While International and local partners work side by side to generate knowledge and good practice to support networks and to build on local assets. Mr. Gerald Kato, the Coordinator of Her Choice Project says The Hunger Project Uganda works to build sustainable community-based programs using the Epicentre strategy.

An Epicentre is a dynamic centre of community mobilisation and action, as well as an actual facility built by community members. She adds that through the Epicentre Strategy 15,000-25,000 people are brought together as a cluster of rural villages — giving villages more clout with local government than a single village is likely to have and increasing a community’s ability to collective utilise resources.

The Epicentre building serves as a focal point where the motivation, energies and leadership of the people converge with the resources of local government and non-governmental organisations.

According to The Hunger Project Uganda, Uganda has 11 Epicentres which serve 494 villages in total, with a population of 287,807 and that over an eight-year period, an Epicentre addresses hunger and poverty and moves along a path toward sustainable self-reliance at which point it is able to fund its own activities and no longer requires financial investment from

Mission of THP-U.

With a mission to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots,
Women -centred strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in Uganda,
THP-U has created self-reliant communities that have demonstrated progress in the following eight goals:

  1. Mobilised 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.

About The Hunger Project :

The Hunger Project (THP) is a global, strategic organisation committed to the sustainable end of hunger. It is an International NGO with its headquarters in New York, USA. It was founded over 30 years ago and works in 30 countries the world over. It works in partnership with local communities and the districts, Authorities.

HER CHOICE is an alliance of four Netherlands-based organisations: Stichting Kinder postzegels Nederland (lead organisation), The Hunger Project, International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) and the University of Amsterdam.

These organisations combine their efforts with 27 local partner organisations to combat child marriage in eleven countries.

The programme runs from January 2016 to December 2020 and is implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

 

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THP-U Contacts: National office: Kisozi Complex, Nakasero Road.
P.0 Box 26393 Kampala (Uganda) Tel: +256414232060/1, +256414232236. Email: uganda@thp.org, web: www.thp.org,
www.her-choice.org
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/mustbeHERCHOICE
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mustbeHERCHOICE

 

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