Epicenters are Empowerment in Action
Imagine being part of an impoverished community dealing with chronic hunger. Imagine having to depend on others to meet your basic needs. What would it feel like to have someone believe in you, and invest in you? What would it feel like to be seen as inherently extraordinary, creative, visionary and hard-working? How would it feel to have your entrepreneurial spirit valued, and to be treated with respect and dignity?
Now, imagine being empowered to believe that you and your community could overcome your hardships on your own. Imagine becoming an agent of change in your own community. Imagine you are part of a community that freed itself from hunger and poverty.
We stand in solidarity with those living in hunger and poverty, and see them as the principal leaders of their own change. Like you, they can improve their own lives and conditions in their own communities. This is the sustainable pathway to ending hunger once and for all.
The Epicenter Strategy is an integrated approach created in Africa, by Africans. Clusters of rural villages band together to create dynamic community centers, and mobilize for action to meet their own basic needs. The Epicenter building serves as a focal point where the motivation, energy and leadership of the people converge with the resources of local government and non-governmental organizations, and is better able to manage its own services. Individuals build the confidence to become leaders of their own development and communities come together to unlock a local capacity for change.
Over the past 20 years, our Epicenter Strategy has become effective, affordable and replicable across eight countries of West, East, and Southern Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, and Uganda).
This holistic strategy builds a path to sustainable self-reliance - which means that communities have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development - through four phases over about eight years.
- The community is mobilized into self reliant action through the delivery of a vision, commitment, and action workshop.
- Animators, or leaders in the community, are trained. Moving forward, the construction of the Epicenter building occurs, utilizing locally available resources and labour from the community.
- Program Implementation occurs, where programs in food and nutrition, health, education, sanitation and adult literacy occur.
- The community transitions into self reliance as it begins to find ways to generate income, establishes itself as a legal entity, and ensures there are committees developed to drive forward development.
The Hunger Project first engaged with Senegal in 1991, as one of the earliest countries of intervention. Currently, Epicenters exist in the areas of: Coki; Dahra; Dinguiraye; Diokoul Nguer-Nguer; Mpal; Namarel; Ndereppe; Ndioum-Dodel; Sam Contor; and Sanar. Each of these epicentres focus on different program areas including infrastructure; women’s empowerment; food security; literacy and education; and microfinance.
The ten Senegal epicentres listed above encompass 203 different villages and serve a population of nearly 165,000.