Mexico is a powerful emerging economy and its government has generous social programs, including President Peña Nieto’s ambitious National Crusade Against Hunger. However, progress continues to elude a large number of people living in extreme poverty. Over 58 million Mexicans live below the poverty line, and the government has defined 11.7 million as living in extreme poverty and deprivation. Within the estimated 25.2 million people living in rural Mexico, 57 percent live in poverty and 28 percent live in extreme poverty. Limited access to basic services, productive natural resources, credit and education perpetuate these conditions. Elected members of municipios (municipal level government), serve three-year nonconsecutive terms, thereby creating significant challenges for long-term planning and development.
Our Work in Mexico
The Hunger Project has been active in Mexico since 1983 and has been playing a leadership role in transforming the situation for rural communities in Mexico. We are pioneering comprehensive, bottom-up, women-centered strategies for rural progress in four states in Mexico — including two of the poorest, Chiapas and Oaxaca.
Neighbouring villages join together in clusters in order to leverage each community’s economic and political power through cooperation and collaboration. Community members, elected government officers and members of civil society attend Vision, Commitment and Action (VCA) workshops as the first step to social mobilisation. Partners create their own vision for the future, commit to achieving it, and outline the actions that are needed to succeed.
Through leadership and skills training, volunteers work in partnership to assess development priorities, design long-term development plans, initiate local campaigns, conduct direct activities such as income generating projects with local women’s enterprises, and advocate for access to critical resources. A top priority in The Hunger Project’s work is ensuring women’s full political, economic and social participation.
In conjunction with our core strategies in Mexico we work in the following capacities:
Supporting Local Governance
The Hunger Project works with officials of municipios, the form of government closest to the people, to build partnerships with the people to achieve local priorities. Local government officials join in workshops, training and participatory rural appraisals through which communities create development plans that will provide continuity and continued progress through changing administrations.
Once communities expand the scale of their plans and actions to include more complex challenges such as rural electrification (achieved in the community of Genova, in Nuevo Progreso, in partnership with local officials) or health clinics, they must begin cooperating with their local government and other allies. At this stage, the community engages with the elected Municipal Government, and begins working with technical experts to conduct more formal Participatory Rural Appraisals, and to formulate a formal Community Development Plan. This experience is indelible – once a village has proven what they are capable of, they do not forget. They see the evidence of their power to make change all around them.
Promoting Youth Leadership
The Hunger Project partners with students of the Monterrey Institute of Technology, one of Mexico’s finest universities. Students work with village women to support small businesses through the Social Enterprise Incubator. The partnership, which began with 11 students has grown to include 80 students working with over 200 women entrepreneurs to legally incorporate enterprises and assist in financial and legal training.
Advocating for Development Policy
The Hunger Project has established a strong voice in encouraging policy makers to adopt socially progressive, empowering strategies nationwide.
In 2013, Mexico’s President Nieto appointed our Country Director, Lorena Vazquez Ordaz to the high profile National Council of the Crusade Against Hunger. Prior to the announcement of the Crusade, the Office of the President invited The Hunger Project to recommend key objectives to be included in the strategy. Our chief recommendations included adopting the Scaling-Up Nutrition campaign to eliminate childhood malnutrition, building the capacity of small-scale rural farmers with a focus on women, and promoting effective community partnership with government — all now reflected in the Crusade’s strategic priorities.
Furthermore, The Hunger Project is one of 10 non-governmental organizations invited to serve on the Consultative Council to the National Ministry of Social Development, ensuring that voices of the rural people are taken into account in the creation of the national development policy.
Meet Lorena our Country Director in Mexico, visit THP-Mexico’s website, learn more about the key initiatives that are empowering people to end their own hunger or take action now and get involved.