The Evidence Project blog explores what we know (and how we know it) about supporting the self-help efforts of chronically hungry people. The insights gained should apply much more broadly to a great variety of development practice, research and policy.
I conducted this exploration in the context of my experience at Freedom from Hunger for the past quarter century. The Freedom from Hunger context is specifically about support of people, especially women in groups, with microfinance and other important services and products that can be delivered along with microfinance. Not just my experience. The Evidence Project draws on the experience of my past and present colleagues at Freedom from Hunger and at other organizations that practice, study and support work like ours.
I stepped down as President of Freedom from Hunger in October 2011, allowing me to focus on this blog for most of 2012-13 to explore this topic. I finished the project at the end of June 2013.
When I cleared out of the president’s office in Davis, California after more than 20 years, I went through a bunch of papers to decide what to keep and what to toss – it was like an archaeological dig down through the ages. I was delighted to find papers and presentations from long ago that were still highly relevant to this project.
For example, this design document Kathleen Stack, Ellen Vor der Bruegge and I put together for our Thailand program in October-November 1988. And this tactical plan for 1990-93 to develop an integrated program of group microfinance and nutrition-health education to address family and child malnutrition. And this paper I presented to the Nutrition Interest Group of The World Bank in 1990 and then updated for presentation in 1992 to the Fifth Annual Hunger Research Briefing and Exchange at Brown University. These show the beginnings of the Freedom from Hunger that evolved from Meals for Millions (founded in 1946) to become the organization I have written about here.
My point is that Freedom from Hunger pursued more or less the same objectives with more or less the same strategies for a quarter century. If you read these “founding” documents and if you know Freedom from Hunger now, you realize that while we thought through our strategy quite carefully from the start, we had to adjust as we learned a great deal about how it works and doesn’t work. I share this learning with you – not to promote Freedom from Hunger but to engage you in helping build theory regarding what we know now and don’t know still about what works (or doesn’t) to support self-help of the poor – and why.
The Evidence Project is now a static blog, but it serves as a book-like compendium of information about the evidence relevant to efforts to make microfinance work for the people living in poverty, even those so poor they are chronically hungry. God bless all of you who carry this work into the future. Be strong, steadfast and patient. And be responsive to credible evidence and attentive to those you serve.