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Creating Sustainable Solutions to End Hunger: It Starts With a Meal™ and Ends With Self-Reliance

By Bryan Pride on October 19, 2023

For 25 years, Rise Against Hunger has been supporting rural, last-mile communities in our work to alleviate food insecurity around the world. If you’ve participated in one of our meal packaging events before, you might know that we ship nutritious meals globally as a means to provide immediate support for communities experiencing hunger. In addition to addressing immediate needs, we also support long-term sustainable solutions to ending hunger. Rise Against Hunger works with community-based organizations to develop sustainable agriculture and income-generation programs that address the root causes of hunger and aim to establish long-term solutions. 

Through our Empowering Communities pathway, Rise Against Hunger works with local organizations through project grants, technical training and behavior change workshops, all of which promote empowerment and strengthen the capacity of local organizations to mitigate hunger through community-based solutions. The Empowering Communities agriculture and income-generation programs give local organizations autonomy to implement food security programs based on the needs of the communities they serve, and Rise Against Hunger comes alongside these organizations as they tackle these challenges. 

A facilitation workshop is conducted in Malawi as part of Harvesting Prosperity and Resilience, the sustainable agriculture project Rise Against Hunger implements with in-country partner FOCUS.

The sustainability of these projects is of vital importance to us; our goal is to ensure lasting, long-term impact in the communities served. Therefore, Rise Against Hunger focuses on capacity strengthening rooted in knowledge building and knowledge cascading throughout the projects. We work with local organizations through the facilitation of Training of Trainers programs, technical guide development and collaborative learning workshops. Each of these activities helps local organizations strengthen their skills in agriculture, nutrition, program management, and monitoring and evaluation. This, in turn, strengthens the programming that they implement at a community level by increasing capacity in program implementation. 

The Elevating Women and Youth Farmers project in Mali, one of our Empowering Communities projects, is working to increase access to land and livestock and knowledge of climate-smart agriculture techniques among women and youth farmers in Mali’s Sikasso and Segou regions. To support capacity strengthening that will then enable sustainable, long-term impact, Rise Against Hunger facilitated a Training of Trainers workshop in Mali with AMEDD, our local partner, in January 2023 to bolster knowledge and skills associated with integrating gardening concepts and technical nutrition practices. The purpose of the training was to work with key project stakeholders in building their knowledge of integrated concepts to improve understanding of the connection between agriculture and nutrition. 

Participants work together in Training of Trainers workshop in Mali
Participants work together in Training of Trainers workshop in Mali.

After the workshop, these stakeholders went on to apply the learned practices within the communities and train project participants, creating a ripple effect of change through the creation of keyhole gardens, improved methods to monitor malnutrition within households and the promotion of nutritious, local recipes that use garden vegetables and other indigenous crops. By empowering local stakeholders with knowledge that could be shared with project participants, the workshop strengthened the impact of the project.  

In addition to training workshops, in September 2023, Rise Against Hunger hosted a Collaborative Learning Agenda that brought together impact partners across 17 countries to share successes and challenges associated with the food security programs implemented with Rise Against Hunger. The learning agenda was an opportunity for impact partners to share and learn from each other, fostering a collaborative network for the implementing organizations. This promotes sustainability because the organizations are able to connect, collaborate, problem-solve and teach new practices, all of which perpetuate and reinforce learnings that strengthen organizational capacity.  

Crops being grown as part of the Empowering Leaders Through Nutrition-Smart Agriculture project in South Sudan.

Rise Against Hunger also prioritizes long-term sustainability when working with partners on the design and implementation of food security programs. In South Sudan, Rise Against Hunger has been working with Lift Up the Vulnerable at Hope For South Sudan, an orphanage and school in the Eastern Equatoria state. Hope for South Sudan previously received Rise Against Hunger meals but wanted to become more self-reliant. The project implemented at the school, called Empowering Leaders Through Nutrition-Smart Agriculture, has supported this objective through sustainable agriculture solutions. Hope for South Sudan is now cultivating a 200-acre farm that provides fresh fruits, vegetables and grains for school meals. In addition to farm cultivation, Hope For South Sudan has learned how to develop an on-campus malnutrition monitoring and referral program that has empowered school officials to identify and address cases of moderate malnutrition on campus. This has prevented malnutrition cases from worsening before children are able to receive treatment. With a steady production of farm produce, Hope For South Sudan is identifying opportunities to generate income from farm activities to cover costs of farm operations. This promotes sustainability as the school makes progress toward self-reliance. 

Robust food security programs empower communities to address and overcome causes of food insecurity, which is why Rise Against Hunger prioritizes long-term, sustainable solutions in our programs with our partners. The work to end hunger starts with a meal — but it doesn’t stop there. Ending hunger also requires communities to be empowered through self-reliance. When communities are empowered with skills and resources, they are able to achieve this, escape instances of food insecurity, maintain food security and mitigate their dependence on food assistance.

To learn more about how we work, check out our organization’s model here