It’s an exciting time in the work to end hunger. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders have aligned to end hunger and poverty by 2030. The African Union has already set an ambitious target to end hunger by 2025.

The big hurdles

Yet while significant progress has been made over the last two decades, the most entrenched poverty and hunger remains. We know global hunger is a solvable problem, so how can we get there?

The “how” begins and ends with the people living in these entrenched conditions. We must put the decision-making power into the hands of local communities. By empowering women, men and youth to become the agents of their own development, we can make sustainable progress in ending hunger.

Successful strategy

This has been accomplished in eight countries across Africa already, using an approach called the Epicenter Strategy, created in Africa, by Africans. For more than 20 years, the strategy has mobilized more than a hundred epicenter communities, reaching nearly 1.7 million people. The approach focuses on building the confidence of individuals to become leaders of their own development.

“We must employ bottom-up solutions that partner with communities who lead the charge of their own development in all key sectors...”

This approach is not necessarily the standard in international development; past strategies have focused on top-down approaches that foster dependency. Instead, we must employ bottom-up solutions that partner with communities who lead the charge of their own development in all key sectors — water, sanitation, health, education and gender equality.

We know this type of development works. Across the countries we work, several communities have graduated to self-reliance, meaning that these communities have worked to put the tools and channels in place to support their own sustainable growth, and the support network is employing its exit strategy. These self-reliant communities have set their own stage to flourish.

By stimulating this type of development, we can foster a culture of self-determination and economic viability in which the community itself is the driver of change.