Empowering local leaders to create COVID-resilient communities.

29 Jun 2020
Author: Lian Choong 
3 minute read

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the core tenets of The Hunger Project’s work are as relevant as ever. Our long term work promoting local leadership, strong systems, and resiliency are all critical as communities navigate the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19.

Door-to-door awareness in a household at Diapangou epicenter - Burkina.

The Hunger Project has mobilised over 500,000 trained, local leaders in 13 countries around the world to create COVID-Resilient Communities in each of the 14,000 villages where we work. Our program leadership created a Framework for Action designed to be tailored to each local context, empowering community leaders with the tools and information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe.

Our Framework for Action.

At the community level:

  • Spreading awareness and understanding of how to stay safe by promoting hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing face coverings in public – and debunking misinformation.
  • Ensuring access to hand washing stations for every household and in key public places.
  • Identifying and isolating symptomatic residents, linking them to health officials where possible.
  • Directing those who need it to sources of relief, either from public safety nets or community philanthropy.
  • Encouraging innovation to preserve livelihoods.
  • Implementing strategies to create community peace, trust and solidarity to halt stigma, social unrest, scapegoating and gender-based violence, including child marriage.

At the national level:

  • Looking to the “new reality.” The effects of COVID-19 will last for a long time. We will identify needs and gaps, advocate for preparedness and respond to the changes and possibilities.
  • Speaking with one voice by organising civil society organisations and existing networks to engage with government and the media.
  • Advocating for sufficient resources for community action and safety nets to prevent social unrest.

Response highlights.

  • Installing 2,200 “Tippy Taps”— touchless handwashing stations - in Benin. 
  • Translating vital information from the Mexican government and the WHO from Spanish into 7 indigenous languages. 
  • Raising $300,000 through community philanthropy to support the most impacted people in 1,900 villages in Bangladesh.
  • Equipping 8,000 elected women in India with information to share with their constituents
  • Using radio to reach up to 718,000 people across Africa with messages about preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In partnership with UNFPA, THP produced Mazateco-language materials about how pregnant women can protect themselves from COVID-19. The materials were distributed to indigenous women living in rural Mexico.

Beyond a health crisis: Addressing food security & hunger. 

The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are rapidly changing conditions in communities around the world - especially those already at risk for food insecurity. The World Food Program is projecting an additional 130 million people could be at risk for starvation or famine. The Hunger Project does not distribute emergency food aid or address the immediate nutrition needs related to starvation. Instead, our work builds resilience in communities facing chronic hunger so they can withstand shocks to their food systems and, possibly, avoid famine. 

We are closely monitoring the food security situation in all of our communities and working with community leaders to identify and mitigate challenges. This support includes:

  • Accessing markets to sell cash crops.
  • Ensuring rural banks are operating with public health protocols in place.
  • Stocking community food banks.
  • Encouraging farmers to continue with planting season while maintaining physical distancing.
  • Connecting people with new government schemes and support.
  • Ensuring that the people most at risk for extreme hunger are connected with relief organisations.

Learners at the Vocational Training center at Taido sewing face masks.

Radio broadcasts for Sapouy epicenter in Burkina.

Your impact.

Investments made today would support:

  • A comprehensive hand-washing campaign reaching 1.2 million people across nine countries in Africa, to keep communities safe with the household level facilities and information they need.
  • Food security programs to stave off rising hunger by enhancing local food storage capacity, increasing crop yields, and providing farmer education programs.
  • Entrepreneurship development and income generation programs to increase incomes, so communities are more resilient to rising food prices.

Supporting the work of The Hunger Project today is an investment in the future we are creating together.