In 2014, The Hunger Project-Benin participated in a number of monumental events, including the inauguration of Gohomey Epicenter in the presence of Dutch investors and staff of The Hunger Project-Netherlands. The Hunger Project-Benin also celebrated International Women’s Day and the official establishment of the Wawata Epicenter’s rural bank, which serves a clientele made up of 52% women. In addition, the team made remarkable strides in different areas in health and nutrition.
Health and Nutrition
The Hunger Project-Benin advanced its mission to promote maternal and child nutrition with its third edition of the “Three Moringa Tree Days” campaign with the theme “Moringa for the nutrition of the mother and child during the window of opportunity of the first 1000 days of life.” The leaves from Moringa trees are powerhouses of nutritional value—they contain four times the calcium in milk and seven times the vitamin C in oranges. They are found locally and they can also boost immunity. The official launching ceremony of the campaign, under the patronage of the Representative of the President of the Republic within the Council of Food and Nutrition (CAN), was attended by the local, municipal and administrative authorities with a panel of The Hunger Project-Benin’s technical and financial partners. In addition to the campaign, The Hunger Project-Benin furthered its commitment to improving the health of mothers and children by the distributing 1,800 bed nets at the health unit of Kissamey Epicenter by the sanitary zone team of Aplahoué – Djakotomey – Dogbo. These bed nets were distributed to pregnant women free of charge during their second pre-natal consultation and to children who completed their vaccination cycle. Children under 5 represent 85% of deaths from malaria, and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to maternal death when sick with the disease.
Women’s Empowerment Program (WEP)
The Hunger Project-Benin hosted a workshop at the Wawata Epicenter to address women’s access to land for improved food security. The workshop was led by an expert in rural land issues and addressed Benin’s inheritance laws—specifically, the fact that women do not have the legal right to inherit land in Benin. Both men and women participated in the workshop and upon completion, participants recommended the implementation of awareness campaigns that target men—especially local officials, elders, and influential groups—in order to facilitate women’s access to land for hunger and poverty alleviation in their communities.
In addition to this workshop, The Hunger Project-Benin’s women facilitators in the WEP Program in priority epicenters planned information and awareness sessions in their villages in an effort to build men’s commitment to facilitating women’s access to land for large-scale farming. In preparation for this activity, a series of trainings were conducted for the facilitators on “Vision, Commitment and Action” tools and communication and facilitation techniques.
The Hunger Project-Benin’s work to gather community members around a shared purpose continued in the program area of community mobilization, particularly with information and awareness-raising sessions on the creation of “village points.” Each point is made up of a group of villages from the epicenter, that together tackle a development challenge before reporting back to their peers. By forming these smaller sub-groups within the epicenter, individuals are more empowered to take action and are also more accountable for their commitments. Village points will be a key tool for moving forward the epicenter’s development and will be essential to achieving self-reliance in the epicenters of Kissamey, Avlamè, Akpadanou, Zakpota and Bétérou. For these sessions, a total of 5,456 partners including 3,240 women took part in 68 workshops, 59 of which were facilitated by committees.