Moving Local Organizations into the Driver’s Seat

Carlos CardenasCarlos Cardenas, Guatemala Country Director  

Guatemala City, Guatemala

July 18, 2012


Sometimes the best way to serve families over the long haul is to step back. A recent change to U.S. foreign assistance policy is putting more local organizations in the lead on development projects around the world.

X00228_9In Guatemala, chronic malnutrition keeps half the country’s children from developing properly. That fuels a vicious cycle of poverty that hurts children in rural, indigenous communities the most. U.S. investments to break this cycle have helped countless children and families, but new reforms mean Guatemalans will play a bigger, more sustainable role in fighting the worst rate of chronic malnutrition in the Western hemisphere.

Save the Children has worked in Guatemala for 14 years with a variety of public and private funding to help poor populations overcome the impact of poverty and three decades of civil conflict. As an international nonprofit humanitarian and development agency, we work alongside communities to implement integrated programs that improve health, nutrition, economic opportunities, disaster risk reduction, democracy and governance.

For the last five years, Save the Children was the prime recipient of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to run a major food security project. In tandem, a local consortium created by Guatemala’s largest export corporations called AGEXPORT was running small scale projects with USAID funds opening up markets for poor rural farmers.  

As a result of USAID’s policy called Implementation and Procurement Reform, AGEXPORT is about to move into the driver’s seat. Under this policy, USAID aims to spend 30 percent of its resources on local institutions by 2015. In Guatemala, USAID has required that a local organization be the prime funding recipient in a new Feed the Future project called “Rural Value Chains.” AGEXPORT has been selected to take the lead and AGEXPORT has asked Save the Children to play a supportive role by providing key technical support and institutional capacity.

We know that improving farmers’ access to markets leads to greater, steadier income through the year and–critically for children–to improved nutrition for their own families. 

If the new project moves ahead as planned, AGEXPORT will bring its expertise with domestic market to the partnership, and Save the Children will bring our experience improving children’s nutrition and food security.

AGEXPORT’s selection as the prime grantee will also give the organization the opportunity to build capacity and institutional expertise to lead increasingly large-scale projects. 

That bodes well for the future.

In the next grant cycle, I suspect that AGEXPORT may not need Save the Children or any other international NGO to improve conditions for Guatemalan farmers and their children. And Save the Children can move on to another area where our technical expertise and services are still truly needed. 

Working ourselves out of a job is a development success.

An Appetite for Change: 2011 Hunger Report on Ending Hunger and Malnutrition

Jessica headshot Jessica Harris

Media Relations Intern, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

 

The 2011 Hunger Report is a “200 page hooray” for U.S. leadership and focus on global food security, said Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann.  Nodding in agreement were Mr. Beckmann’s fellow panelists, Dr. Rajiv Shah of USAID, Roger Thurow of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Inger Andersen of The World Bank, and Carolyn Miles of Save the Children.

Each night, 925 million people go to bed hungry.  This number, which has increased in past years due to a spike in food prices in 2007-2008, is unacceptable.  In a world of plenty, how is it that so many have to suffer through malnutrition and hunger pains on a daily basis? 

This is the question the panelists addressed today as they discussed the key focus points of the Hunger Report and the programs that will help to reduce the number of malnourished children.  According to Inger Andersen, one in five children worldwide is malnourished.  Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles emphasized that child malnutrition creates lifelong and generational impacts:  growth is stunted, immune systems are compromised, and cognitive function is negatively affected.  The first 1,000 days – from pregnancy to age two – is the critical time for child development.

 


     

In an effort to eradicate hunger, the 2011 report has outlined various programs that focus on linking agricultural practices with good nutrition.  Dr. Shah highlighted ways to introduce farmers to crops such as drought-resistant corn and more nutritional grains, increasing family income as well as improving health.  Carolyn Miles recommended that these programs happen on the ground in an integrated way to ensure that families grow foods packed with nutrition, citing the example of a family in Guatemala that she recently visited.  The family has two sons with a three year age difference, yet both children are the same height and weight because the younger son had the benefit of a Save the Children integrated agriculture, nutrition, and livestock project.

During the question and answer session, one reporter asked Dr. Shah how participating organizations will measure the success of these anti-hunger programs.  Dr. Shah responded by expressing that hunger will not be eradicated in five years.  This is just not feasible. However, the main goal right now is to target five to ten countries, decrease the number of people who go hungry every day, and use those examples to prove that this can be done on a larger scale.  

As the discussion came to a close, the panelists highlighted the most important points to take away from the well received report.  According to Carolyn Miles, it is “critical that we focus on the most vulnerable families.”  In perhaps one of the most powerful statements made Monday morning, Dr. Shah concluded the discussion by calling the fight against hunger the “challenge of our time.”