The Myth of Hunger And Starvation
There will always be hunger and starvation.
Each and every day, 20,000 people die as a consequence of chronic, persistent hunger. Approximately 800 million people live in conditions of poverty so severe that they are unable to obtain enough food to meet their daily requirements. This is not the kind of hunger that makes headlines, as in a famine, but a silent holocaust that continues day after day, month after month.This waste of human lives is all the more tragic in that it can be ended. Ending hunger is a highly complex challenge. It is increasingly clear that charitable responses and traditional bureaucratic programs, as useful as they may be, are insufficient to carry the day. More importantly, people increasingly recognize that conventional approaches are based on a framework of thinking that is inconsistent with what actually must be done to achieve the end of hunger on a sustainable basis.
Creating a New Future
Ending hunger requires a true break with the status quo. It will not happen in the course of "business as usual." To resolve humanity's oldest and most pernicious problem requires four essential ingredients:
VisionGiven who we are as human beings, what is critical to our progress is vision - seeing a future that can be achieved and is worth achieving. A vision that calls forth a sustainable future for humanity, a future in which all people have the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives in harmony with nature is what we call "the end of hunger."
Commitment is what allows individuals to encounter obstacles, frustrations and failures on the pathway to achievement and still keep going. It is increasingly clear that achieving the future we envision will not just happen. It must be made to happen, and this will require extraordinary commitment. Calling forth that commitment, and keeping it focused and sustained to fulfill the vision, is a vital responsibility of The Hunger Project.
Leadership is critical to every great human achievement. Ending hunger requires committed leadership at all levels of society - from the village to the district, state, nation and the international community - that can call forth vision and commitment, and mobilize people to take effective action.
Strategy And Action
Meeting a challenge as complex and daunting as hunger in a world of finite resources requires brilliant strategy and high-leverage action. It requires inquiry, analysis and allocation of resources consistent with achieving the goal. Every action must be designed to take a quantum leap forward towards the goal. There must also be extraordinary flexibility of action. One must move down a pathway with sufficient intentionality to make progress, yet be willing at every moment to let go of one approach to take a better pathway.
The Campaign to End Hunger
Not a program, but a phenomenon
The work of ending hunger cannot be accomplished by any one organization, or even any conceivable network of organizations. The end of hunger will not be a series of well-managed projects. It will be achieved through millions of actions, most of which will never be recognized, and will certainly not be monitored and measured.The end of hunger will be a phenomenon
It will be an unleashing of the creativity and productivity of hundreds of millions of hungry people, and hundreds of thousands of effective strategies and actions that create the enabling environment for them to succeed.
Catalyzing that phenomenon
The phenomenon of strategy and action will not happen on its own. Individuals must take responsibility for making it happen.
A movement, not an organization
For this reason, The Hunger Project can never be accurately thought of as merely an organization. It must be thought of as a movement, a campaign of individuals and organizations committed to taking strategic action to mobilize self-reliant development and transform the policy environment at every level so that people can succeed.
Galvanizing the campaign at every level of society
The campaign for ending hunger starts with the creativity of hungry people - respecting them as the primary authors and actors of the work to end hunger, awakening them to a possibility for a better life, and working to clear away the obstacles to the success of their self-reliant action. Building upon the self-reliant efforts of hungry people, the campaign to end hunger must take action at every level of society - from the local level up to the national government, and to the level of the international community.
Strategic Planning-in-Action - a Methodology for Accomplishment, Focus and BreakthroughTo meet the challenge of ending hunger requires a methodology that will break up old patterns of action, that will foster new ways of thinking and empower people to achieve concrete break-throughs in health, education, nutrition, food production, incomes and the empowerment of women. The methodology to achieve this is called strategic planning-in-action.
Mobilize and empower committed indigenous leadership
The first step in our work is always to enlist the leadership of individuals of great commitment, complete integrity and the stature to access anyone in society necessary to ending hunger. Leadership for action in a village must come from that village; leadership for action in a nation must come from that nation. These individuals must become completely clear about and committed to utilizing the principles and methodology of The Hunger Project.
Bring together all sectors of society
Ending hunger cannot be accomplished by government alone. We bring together leadership from all key sectors - business, academia, NGOs and government agencies - forming councils to create and lead our strategies in co-equal partnership.
Build a shared understanding
For people to work together effectively, they must achieve a comprehensive shared understanding of the prevailing conditions, the effectiveness of existing programs and the priority areas where action is required. Bringing all the information together, and making it clear, finite and confrontable, has been one of the most empowering contributions of The Hunger Project since its inception.
Commit to achieving a strategic intent
Individuals working with The Hunger Project must develop a powerfully articulated, unifying and achievable vision - a strategic intent - and clear strategic objectives appropriate to solving the problem, society-wide. We must never be content with helping a few, but rather commit ourselves to transforming conditions throughout society so that all people can build lives free from hunger.
Commit to playing a strategic, catalytic role
Once people are committed to actually achieving the goal, they must then recognize the possibility of taking catalytic, high-leverage action that can affect the "big picture" - breaking bottlenecks to progress, improving existing programs, mobilizing and making better use of resources, effecting structural changes in society that can unleash the creativity and productivity of hungry people.
Identify what's missing
Our work is always guided by the question, What's missing? What, if provided, would allow for a breakthrough? This is very different, and far more powerful, than the more common questions, What's wrong? Why isn't it working? These latter questions tend to call forth blame and paralysis, not action and cooperation. The Hunger Project respects the work of other organizations - by focusing on what's missing, we avoid duplicating work being done by others.
Take immediate action
Take immediate action to catalyze "what's missing" being provided. Take action first where it can succeed and produce near-term results.
Create a momentum of accomplishment
One must constantly assess and sharpen the strategy. Each accomplishment gives a new landscape: new leadership, new obstacles, new openings for catalytic action. Each failure can lead to a deeper understanding of the nature of the challenge. Creating and sustaining this campaign mentality and style of working is crucial to breaking the mind-set of resignation and unleashing the human spirit.