Proposed Budget Cuts: Community-led Development at Risk

President Donald Trump released his first formal proposed budget to Congress on 16 March 2017. As promised, the “America First” budget is proposing $54 billion in cuts throughout different federal government agencies and programs to offset the increase to the defense budget. Here is a snapshot of some departments that will be experiencing budget cuts:

Picture Source: CNN Politics President Donald Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts

President Trump wants to reduce foreign aid, and has reflected this by proposing a 31.4% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a 28.7% cut to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). If Congress approves this budget, it would cut funding for international development programs and the World Bank. It would also remove funding from programs aimed at combating climate change, therefore, culminating U.S. support to the United Nations’ climate change programs.

These budget proposals will have a direct impact on the movement for Community-led Development (CLD). Independent agencies, such as the U.S. African Development Foundation, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the United States Institute of Peace have been suggested for elimination. These agencies provide economic support, childhood development, education and food security, amongst other development services to communities throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The CDL programs rely on the financial support of USAID, the State Department and numerous independent agencies to support their missions. It is imperative that Congress does not allow this blueprint to pass because of the negative repercussions it will have on U.S. foreign policy priorities and international development goals, which have been the frontrunner for women’s rights.

Community-led development begins and ends with the empowerment of women. This budget proposal would jeopardize years of progression that development programs have been able to achieve, particularly in the areas of reproductive and sexual health and gender equality. The ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rely upon investments and resources from the United States, as well as other donor countries. The influence the U.S. has over foreign policy cannot be overlooked. Their funding is crucial in garnering support from communities around the world to see the SDGs come to fruition. The proposed budget has received strong criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

The Trump administration’s budget proposal focuses on allocating majority of the federal dollars towards the defense budget. It is important that the International Development community stress to Congress that the USAID and the State Department are important entities to protect the United States from foreign attacks against our great nation. It is imperative that both the United States and the rural international communities are backed by the USAID and State Department.

Feed the Future – How Food Security Impacts Gender Inequality

September 7, 2016- Gayle Smith, USAID Administrator announced a new report in Nairobi, Kenya today that extends the United States Government’s previous 2009 initiative on the promise of eradication of global hunger and poverty.  The new report outlines the strategy to end global hunger for the next 15 years.  “Bolstered by the strong bipartisan passage of the Global Food Security Act by the U.S. Congress, we cast our vision for how the world can come together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets on poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and call upon the global development community to mobilize the resources and partnerships required for success.”  The goals will center on new agricultural technology to improve productivity and to ensure food safety.  The new strategy is focused on income increase, resilience, and improved nutrition amongst others.

“Putting this vision into practice, Administrator Smith signed a memorandum of understanding with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to deepen USAID’s ongoing coordination with the organization.”  The  new agreement between the US Government and AGRA will increase cooperation in various local sectors on policy, and the new agricultural system that would support the global community to achieve  food security in Africa.  ” I’m thrilled to see the United States recommit their support and call on the global community to unite around a shared vision for achieving food security in the years ahead, and AGRA is eager to continue working with Feed the Future to make the vision a reality,” said Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA”

Clearly Obama’s 2010 Feed the Future initiative has created not just hope but the realization of a very achievable dream with tangible results.  Today more than six years since its inception we see new faces in the traditionally held male dominated farming sectors.  Women have been called the traditional homecare providers, wives, mothers and now today’s bread winners and tomorrow’s leaders in many parts of Africa.

The most recent Feed the Future Progress report shows a rapid decline of poverty and child stunting in many of the Focus countries since 2010.  The value of empowering women by promoting self-reliance is enormous.  For once an initiative is actually producing live results and not just an empty promise.

The data below represents the concentration of efforts that Feed the Future focuses on geographically.  These numbers have been rounded to show growth between 2010-2015.

Ethiopia– Poverty Down 12%- 2013-2015

Malawi– CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 14% – 2010-2015 – POVERTY 18% – 2010-2015

Cambodia– POVERTY Down 26%- 2009-2015 – CHILDHOOD STUNTING 23%- 2011-2014

Honduras-CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 32% – 2012-2015

Liberia– Poverty Down 19%- 2012-2015

Bangladesh-Child Stunting Down 12%- 2011-2014

Rwanda – Child Stunting Down 14%- 2010-2015

Ghana– CHILDHOOD STUNTING Down 17% –  POVERTY 12% – 2012-2015

Our focus at the Hunger Project has been on women first through empowerment by a systematic community-led approach.  This method then transitions into creation of epicenters that leads to the eventual entrepreneurship for both men and women but mostly women.  The new farming techniques has balanced the large gap in gender inequality because women are more open to learning and applying new techniques.

According to the Feed the Future latest information about status of women in agriculture, “Women make up a significant proportion of the agricultural labor force in developing countries — up to 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Women farmers are less productive than men due to less access to land, farming technologies, fertilizer, credit and training. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase farm yields by 20-30 percent. This increase in agricultural output could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million.”

Women are the future mothers of the world and that alone is enough to feed them first, so that they can feed the rest.  To accomplish this seemingly daunting but doable task a woman must become independent and self-reliant.  First, she must have the ability to make an informed educated decision and that means food security and access to healthy nutritious food that results in a healthy pregnancy.  Second, when she is strong she will instill that same spirit into her child.  Third, she will be able to operate her own business and not be reliant on male support.

The increased US Government focus in ending hunger, is mobilizing and uniting community-led efforts in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  One hopes that this unity filters into other areas that is in sore need of attention, but one step at a time.  Gender inequality, and child stunting  is lessening due to the increase in the food supply.  Women are empowered by trading their own farm grown products, and the ability to sustain the family.  The effect: less child marriages, less monetary dependency that allows more girls to stay in schools.  Self-empowerment means more confidence.  So far, the gender inequality gap decrease is one of the best example of a united effort that Feed the Future initiative has produced through food security.

USAID will unveil its strategy for the next phase to the Congress by early October, 2016.

For more information please visit the USAID  and Feed the Future websites.

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Visit for updates and to learn more about the Research Strategy

Together for 2030 – A Global Partnership Committed to Betterment of Humanity

At the Together for The 2030 Agenda–The Partnerships Playbook, seeks to share values in action with member countries, one that is humanity-based. The Partnership comes together in a renewed and focused manner through what unites us rather divides us. According to the 2030 Agenda “We are bound by our commitment to work together to support all people to achieve their full potential.  Our partnerships are based on the principles of national ownership, of mutual trust, of transparency and of accountability.” Achieving sustainability of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be accomplished through enablement of people on every level.  The creation of prosperous and self-reliant communities can in part be realized by maximizing and using all the available local resources.

There are 10 values set out for this new global partnership to achieve via a sustainable and workable method by 2030.  The Together 2030  values are:

  • Country-Led Partnerships to Achieve Sustainability;
  • Right-Based Charter of the United Nations;
  • Inclusive Private, Civil, Academia, UN, and Government Partnership;
  • Transparency of Intentions;
  • Predictability and Mutual Accountability;
  • Evidenced-Based;
  • Conscientious Communication;
  • Action in Ethical Manner and with Integrity;
  • Mutual Respectability; and
  • Doing No Harm.

Adherence to these rule-based values and the discipline to monitor its ongoing progress by the partner countries, will be its biggest challenge.  “Doing no harm” and “action in ethical manner and with integrity” is huge.  At present, most of the ongoing world projects that seek to implement a responsible, ethical, and right-based behavior have failed to achieve its purpose. The members of Together 2030 face a daunting task when it comes to these values, but specifically the two listed above will be the ones that will test this Partnership’s commitment the most.

The 2030 partners have created an idealistic plan, but hopefully a realistic one, due to the harsh reality of a divided world that only unites during conventions and summits.  What makes these set of values any different than the existing ones under the United Nations (UN) today?  Same principles, and similar purpose, just written differently, or is there a new motivation gaining momentum around the world, centered on people’s empowerment and community-led movement?  The Partnership requires a serious dedication to these values, and a unified front in its actions and implementation.

The Hunger Project has spearheaded global advocacy that endeavors to mobilize communities in various developing countries to use its own local resources first.  It seeks to train, especially the youth, and individuals to act as animators that provide a workable roadmap to achieving people empowerment.

The current SDGs to end hunger by year 2030, and now the Together for 2030 Partnership are finally putting people first.  We realize that our resources are limited, be it money, manpower, education, or health.  Our governments, state and local level municipalities are often short on funding for the non-emergency community development programs.  Many nonprofits must choose and prioritize projects based on fund procurement.  It is for that reason that the global advocacy for community-led development is so appealing because it delivers evidence of the actual results that were achieved.

The Partnership Playbook‘s progress reports will hopefully distinguish between the merits of those values that will be realized by 2030 and those that needs a rethink or a shift in methodology.  Most importantly, the lessons learned within the various countries will be of enormous help going forward.  It can be a useful guideline for creating similar successful projects that are feasible.

To learn more information,please visit:

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Oxfam’s Female Food Hero from Nigeria: A Change-Maker in Her Community

It’s about shifting the mindset…medium and small scale farming can generate income.“- 2014 Female Food Hero Monica Maigari from Kaduna State, Nigeria 

Last week  Oxfam America hosted a Brown Bag Lunch, which couldn’t have came at a better time as it was a day after International Women’s Day 2016, to share their Female Food Hero(FFH) Contest . The FFH Contest recognizes the achievement of rural women who are small stakeholder farmers and is evidence of how providing a platform for  women to be agents of change can benefit entire communities. Oxfam America had special guest Monica Maigari, one of the 2014 FFH winners in Nigeria,  to speak on her experience.  

Pictured: (L) Monica Maigari, 2014 Female Food Hero in Nigeria    (R) Manre Chirtau, Organizer of Female Food Hero Initiative in Nigeria

With the recognition as a Female Food Hero many women in Maigari’s community respected her, counted on her to be the voice of the community, and depended on her to shed light on the challenges they faced. In Nigeria where the population is 184 million people , women account for 60-79% of the workforce agriculture, but only 7.2% them own land, according to a representative from  the Female Food Hero initiative in Nigeria.

Maigari mentioned that because women are denied many land rights they have to give money or part of their harvest to use the land. This limits economic freedom for women and disproportionately undermines women’s position as the main producers of  agriculture in Nigeria.  Because of her recognition as a Female Food Hero, she has gained respect and was sent to  speak with the chief of her province advocating for her community on issues such as land-tenure rights for women. 

Oxfam is a partner  in the Movement for Community-led Development , a coalition of organizations that believe in a  gender-focused, transformative process that “empowers citizens and local authorities to transform entrenched patriarchal mindsets and take effective action.”  Oxfam’s initiatives like the FFH contest is addressing the patriarchal mindset that challenges rural women farmers and harnesses their empowerment as key change agents in communities to take action.   

As a benefit of being a Female Food Hero, Maigari  was awarded a cash prize of 200,000 Nigerian Naira (NGN), which enabled her to purchase two hectares of land to farm -which is not an easy feat for  women in Nigeria.  She also uses her land to benefit the community by allowing the land to be used as an “experiment” lab to see which crops or farming strategies work well.

The process of selecting the Female Food Hero was a national-wide effort where across Nigeria female farmers were were able to send in over 3000+ nominations ,and after a screening of the nominees, 12 finalist were selected. As one of the 12 finalists,  Magari participated in a week long of events receiving training and information surrounding women and farming, meeting other industry professionals,  and other women farmers alike. She mentioned that she is going back home and sharing the trainings received through a cooperative she has helped form.  

Monica Maigari says, “It’s important that women teach women because they listen to themselves. A man  just cant go to a women and teach, they will not accept it. Women come and they will listen. Man don’t have the patience.Women will have patience to demonstrate correctly [to other women].”

When Maigari asked what was the most important advice on replicating initiatives like the FFH contest she said the trainings should give more attention to labor saving strategies.”We need drought resistance seeds and [other technologies] that makes agriculture easier for women so they can balance [work and home duties].

By engaging women as key change agents and rethinking the power of community , long-lasting sustainable development can occur to make the dream  of living in a food-secure word without poverty a reality. However, another caveat to making that dream a reality  is recognizing the important role of women as key stakeholders in these issues. 

To view the full trailer of the Female Food Hero Initiative in Nigeria please click here