The Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger
In 1987, The Hunger Project launched the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger to call forth the committed, effective leadership that Africa desperately needs. The Africa Prize celebrates, acknowledges and honors the accomplishments of individuals who have exhibited extraordinary leadership for the end of hunger.
Purpose of the Africa Prize
The Africa Prize honors a distinguished African man or woman who has exhibited exceptional leadership in bringing about the sustainable end of hunger at the national, regional or continent-wide level.
The Africa Prize focuses on individuals working in areas such as public policy, science, agriculture, education and health whose leadership and policies reflect courage, initiative, creativity, and, in some cases, personal sacrifice.
The Africa Prize acknowledges and honors the recipient’s outstanding contribution to the general well-being of the people of Africa. In addition, the Africa Prize seeks to generate heightened awareness within the world community of the many African leaders who are making the difficult decisions and taking the necessary actions to resolve the pressing agricultural and economic, political and social issues facing the continent.
Ultimately, the Africa Prize is intended to engender a greater appreciation for and support of the effective and dynamic leadership associated with the end of hunger in Africa on a sustainable basis.
Laureates of the Africa Prize are presented a sculpture by the famed artist Takenobu Igarashi and a cash award of US$100,000 to further their work for the sustainable end of hunger. The Prize has been awarded at prestigious black-tie award ceremonies in New York City, London, Tokyo, Rome and Washington, D.C.
Leadership from Every Sector and Level of Society
The Africa Prize has redefined the very meaning of leadership – expanding it from the traditional “head man” model of leadership to include leadership of both women and men, and leadership from every level and sector of society.
In its most radical, and most important, expansion of the definition of leadership, the Africa Prize has been awarded to women leaders who, against all odds, have found within themselves the courage and strength to assert their leadership for a better future for Africa.One of the first women to win the Africa Prize was Wangari Maathai in 1991. Prof. Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, one of the world’s most successful programs to combine community development and environmental protection. The movement has enhanced the self-reliance and self-confidence of tens of thousands of people living in poverty.After receiving the Prize, Prof. Maathai became an international spokesperson at the Rio Environmental Conference of 1992; subsequently, she was jailed by the Moi regime for her opposition to environmental destruction. When a new government came to power, she became deputy minister for the environment. In 2004, Prof. Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. As she has frequently said, “The Africa Prize gave me my first platform.”
A Catalyst for New Strategies
AFRICAN WOMAN FOOD FARMER INITIATIVE (AWFFI – NOW CALLED THE MICROFINANCE PROGRAM)
In 1999, in a unique departure from honoring individuals, we focused the prestige of the Prize on honoring those who are doing the most for the well-being of the African people: the millions of women who grow Africa’s food. We used the Prize to launch a special US$1 million initial investment in a program of credit, training and savings to make African women food farmers real economic players, with a voice in their communities.
The Africa Prize was accepted by Nagbila Aisseta, a formerly illiterate woman farmer from Burkina Faso. She was accompanied home by a delegation of investors from 10 countries, and was met at the airport by high government officials, the media and thousands of women. After meeting the prime minister, and after three months of rallies on the importance of empowering women farmers, she carried the Prize statue, like the Olympic torch, to the next Hunger Project country (Benin), where the process was repeated by another woman food farmer, and then again and again in each African country in which The Hunger Project works.
Today, about 45,000 partners (75 percent of whom are women) are actively participating in our Microfinance Program (as AWFFI is now called). In 2010, they deposited savings totaling $1 million. They have become literate, improved their farms, grown more food, started businesses, earned more money and kept their daughters in school. Dozens have become so confident and bold that they have been elected to local office. Learn more about the Microfinance Program.
HIV/AIDS AND GENDER INEQUALITY WORKSHOP
In 2001, coinciding with the UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the Africa Prize was presented to four African AIDS activists and was used to launch The Hunger Project’s AIDS initiative.
Gender inequality fuels the spread of HIV/AIDS. Societal gender roles encourage men to have unsafe sex with multiple partners, and leave women powerless to negotiate safe sex. To address these problems, The Hunger Project created a grassroots-level workshop that empowers rural communities to know the facts about AIDS and launch campaigns to change dangerous gender behaviors.
Since this workshop was launched in 2003, more than 1.1 million people have participated in it at Hunger Project epicenters across Africa. The workshop has resulted in increased demand for both male and female condoms, reduction in sexually transmitted disease, marked reduction in domestic violence, and visibly shifting gender behaviors, such as men taking responsibility for a share of child care and household chores.
Africa Prize Laureates
Hunger in Africa has moved the world’s heart on many occasions. But sympathy, charity and emergency relief will not solve the underlying problems.
It is the men and women of Africa who must provide the leadership to achieve the sustainable end of hunger. The laureates of the Africa Prize are outstanding leaders from every level and every sector of society. Individually, their accomplishments have improved the lives of tens of millions of people. Together, they represent a new possibility.
Africa Prize laureates represent a body of leadership with the moral authority and the track record of success to chart a new future – to create new strategies and launch new initiatives for a future free from hunger.
Dr. Florence Chenoweth
Liberian Minister of Agriculture
Dr. Chenoweth, the first woman in Africa to be Minister of Agriculture, fights for gender-equal agricultural rights and resources.
Faiza Jama Mohamed
Africa Regional Director of Equality Now
Faiza Jama Mohamed, has spent the last 25 years fighting for women’s rights throughout the African continent.
Founder and President, Gahaya Links
After the devastating war and genocide, Janet Nkubana returned to her native Rwanda, where she organized rural women into a basket weaving cooperative, Gahaya Links, now nearly 4,000 weavers strong,
H. E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President of Liberia
President Sirleaf is the first woman elected to the presidency of an African nation. She has launched programs to rebuild her nation after 14 years of civil war.
Founder, Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and Chairperson, Enat Bank
Meaza Ashenafi’s organization has led the charge for women’s rights across the political spectrum and across the nation. She has championed women’s rights in the areas of domestic violence, sexual abuse, family, economic and land rights.
Gender consultant, Zambia
Sara Longwe, a writer and mobilizer, has pioneered the use of international human rights laws in the fight for women’s rights in domestic courts. She served 6 years as chairperson of FEMNET, a pan-African network that aims to strengthen the role African NGOs in focusing on women’s rights.
Co-founder, SHDEPHA+, Tanzania
Amelia Jacob is an HIV positive woman who had the courage to step forward as a spokesperson and activist. She co-founded Service Health and Development for People Living Positively with HIV/AIDS (SHDEPHA+) to stand up for the rights of HIV positive people, and to ensure “all positive people have the chance to live positively – without fear, discrimination or denial.”
Bishop Dennis H. de Jong (1931-2003
Integrated AIDS Programme, Zambia
Under Bishop de Jong’s leadership, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ndola has established a comprehensive set of programs for prevention, education and community-based care. Bishop de Jong has brought integrity and forthrightness to the programs, allowing participants to explore issues of sexual behavior and personal responsibility rather than only promoting abstinence as the way to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Hiwot AIDS Prevention Care and Support Organization (HAPCSO) is a local grassroots organization seeking to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia by creating awareness of HIV/AIDS in the community and by working to change behavior.
Men’s Forum on Gender, Zimbabwe
Committed to creating a gender-just society in Zimbabwe, Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender examines the underlying male stereotypes that have lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and encourages men to take responsibility for their own behavior as well as prevention and care of the epidemic
The African Woman Food Farmer
Her future is Africa’s future
Women are Africa’s most important – and least supported producers – producing 80% of Africa’s food. Yet women receive only 7% of agricultural extension services and 1% of agricultural credit.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Former President of Uganda
President Museveni has made it his mission to ensure peace and stability, adequate social services, support for farmers and diversification of the economy.
Founder and Leader of the General Union of Agricultural Cooperatives
Founded an organization of 10,000 peasants, 95 percent of whom are women. The 200 cooperatives produce food for members and their families, and are generating a surplus that enables them to supply the markets in Maputo, the Mozambican capital.
H. E. Joaquim Chissano
Former President of Mozambique
Is reviving Mozambique’s economy with programs that promote rural marketing, provide access to credit and raise the productivity of small-scale farmers.
Founder, National Assn. of Business Women of Malawi
Founded organization that has empowered thousands of women, predominantly rural, to become economically self-reliant.
H. E. Amadou Toumani Touré
Former President of Mali
Brought democracy to his country by ending 23 years of single party rule in 1991.
Chief Bisi Ogunleye
Founder, Country Women’s Association of Nigeria
Founded Network of African Rural Women Associations that is widely known for its programs in credit, agriculture and small business development.
H. E. Sam Nujoma
Former President of the Republic of Namibia
President Nujoma led his nation to independence over a 30-year period, and is now leading it to reconciliation and rapid progress in the rural areas.
Mrs. Joyce F. Mungherera (1934 – 2015)
National Executive Director, YWCA – Uganda
Under Mrs. Mungherera’s leadership, the YWCA – Uganda has grown into a powerful force for literacy, family planning and improved incomes. With 1.5 million paying members and 1,000 staff, it is one of the largest nongovernmental organizations in Africa.
H. E. Nelson Mandela
Former President of the Republic of South Africa
In peacefully ending apartheid, President Mandela ended one of the greatest causes of hunger in the region. Today, he is leading South Africa to meet its next great challenge – liberation from hunger, want and deprivation.
H. E. Jerry John Rawlings
Former President of the Republic of Ghana
President Rawlings has transformed his country from a condition of economic crisis to a model of self-reliance, consistently focusing on the need for increased food production.
Father Nzamujo Godfrey
Director, Songhai Project, Benin
“Commitment to Excellence” is the motto of the innovative research and training center established by Father Nzamujo in Benin. A Dominican priest, Father Nzamujo left a comfortable job in the US when famine hit the continent in 1984.
Mrs. Graça Simbine Machel
President, Foundation for Community Development, Mozambique
Mrs. Machel, at the time of Mozambique’s independence, took responsibility for the most vital step in nation building the education of mozambique’s people. During her decade of service as minister of education, student enrollment nearly tripled.
Dr. Ebrahim M. Samba
Africa Regional Director, World Health Organization
For centuries, much of the richest farmland in West Africa was idle due to the threat of River Blindness. Since 1980, Dr. Samba has managed a team of 800 scientists, physicians and pilots 97 per cent of whom are African in a successful program that has eliminated river blindness from an 11country region.
Mrs. Maryam Ibrahim Babangida
Founder, Better Life Programme for the Rural Women (BLP), Nigeria
Mrs. Babangida was the founder of the Better Life Program for the Rural Woman, a program which has achieved dramatic results since its founding in 1987 and seeks to empower women’s social, economic and political status.
Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai
Founder, Green Belt Movement, Kenya
Professor Maathai is the founder of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya, one of the world’s most successful programs to combine ecommunity development and environmental protection. The movement has enhanced the selfreliance and selfconfidence of tens of thousands of people living in poverty.
H. E. Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President of Nigeria; founder, Africa Leadership Forum
Olusegun Obasanjo is a vigorous advocate of disarmament, democracy, agriculture and development, and has spoken out unflinchingly on the challenges facing Africa. To set an example for the importance of agriculture in his country, he became a farmer himself upon leaving office after his first term.
Dr. Esther Afua Ocloo (1919-2002)
Founder and first chair, Women’s World Banking
Dr. Ocloo, a highly successful entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist and international leader, was the first woman to be awarded the Africa Prize for Leadership. She has devoted her life to providing appropriate training and access to credit for African women so that they can start their own enterprises.
H. E. Dr. Ketsumile Masire
Former President of the Republic of Botswana
President Masire has directed the fruits of Botswana’s strong economic growth to small-scale farmers. When Botswana was hit by drought from 1981 to 1987, President Masire pledged that not one person would starve. Through programmed of nutritional surveillance, early warning systems, food distribution and “cash for work,” he kept that pledge.
Dr. Bernard L. Ouédraogo
President and founder, the Naam movement, Burkina Faso Co-founder, International Six-S Association
Dr. Ouédraogo is a founder and leader of Africa’s largest and most successful grassroots movements for self reliance. He has motivated hundreds of thousands of small scale farmers in the dry Sahel region of West Africa to take command of their own development.
(See our August 2001 statement on the situation in Zimbabwe).
H. E. Abdou Diouf
Former President of the Republic of Senegal
As chair of the Organization of African Unity in 1985-86, President Diouf of Senegal played a pivotal role in forging a continent-wide consensus on a priority program for Africa’s recovery.
Professor Thomas R. Odhiambo (1931-2003)
Director, RANDFORUM: Research and Development Forum for Science-Led Development in Africa; former Director, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi, Kenya
Professor Odhiambo was one of the world’s leading scientists. His research focused on developing environmentally sound solutions to the pressing need for increased food production and improved health in rural communities.
Make change happen. Invest in people.
Get in touch
The Hunger Project
110 West 30th Street, 6th Floor,
New York, NY 10001
Join the conversation on social, and stay connected with the latest from our partners around the world.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive a concise update of latest news and events near you.