Rotary members’ role in facing hunger, poverty, and inequality

Savings and Loans are key to support entrepreneurs

By Bonaventure Fandohan, Community Economic Development Manager at Rotary International

Livelihood prospects have changed since 2020 for developing and emerging countries. Conflict, extreme weather patterns, and disparities caused by economic shocks and health crises, including the coronavirus pandemic are the main drivers of that change.

According to OXFAM International, a non-governmental organization based in the UK, more than a quarter of a billion people around the world could be pushed into extreme poverty this year due to:

  • A surge in global food prices after Russia invaded Ukraine
  • The ongoing impact of COVID-19
  • Rising global inequality
  • Changes in weather patterns due to climate change

Loss of jobs, the rise of inequality, and hunger are real concerns for poor and underserved communities worldwide, especially for women, youth, and low-wage and informal workers. More than 48 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger, with the threat of acute malnutrition, starvation, and death, according to the World Food Program. The World Bank reveals that nearly 25 years of effort to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty–earning less than US$2.15 per person per day–has been put at risk. This situation has created unprecedented economic damage, contributing to a significant slowdown and inflation. Global growth is projected to slow from an estimated 6.1 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022 and 2023.

Moreover, the rising costs of fuel, fertilizer, and wheat, driven by shortages and sanctions arising from the war in Ukraine, are exacerbating the hunger crisis and creating the potential for mass starvation across hunger hotspots in multiple nations worldwide. This problematic situation has enabled Rotary members to invest more time and effort in people and communities to alleviate poverty, creating measurable and enduring economic improvements in poor and underserved areas. Through their work, Rotary members have contributed to improving livelihoods in countries where people are going through job loss, decreased incomes, and high levels of hunger.

What you can do to support community and economic development

Vocational training can make a difference in household incomes

If you want to be part of that group of Rotary members supporting individuals, households, or communities in dealing with the economic downturn:

  • Start with a community assessment to identify a community’s needs and assets and discuss local priorities and long-term visions.
  • Discuss the results of the assessment with a local expert from the Community Economic Development field, identified through your District Resource Network with the help of your District International Service Committee.
  • Look for partners who share the same ideas and interests in the project.
  • Approach your District Foundation Committee if you’re considering applying for a district or global grant to support your project. Consider sharing the community assessment results and the project idea with your Regional Grant Officer for feedback and ideas.

Remember to keep an open mind. Prioritize sustainability and community ownership in projects by involving stakeholders from the onset of your project. Stakeholders, however, should be partners and project co-designers from the community assessment stage and throughout every aspect of project planning,  implementation, and long-term ownership and oversight.

2 thoughts on “Rotary members’ role in facing hunger, poverty, and inequality

  1. It’s a very good observation as a Rotary Community Corps under Rotary Club of Ndola in Zambia.
    As a community body at Grassroot Level where problems are being faced physically, we could like to take part in conducting Community Needs Assessment to prepare ourselves for 2023.
    If anything we will need guidance

  2. Thanks for your comment, Lighton. We encourage you to reach out to Rotary’s resources for Community Economic Development projects, such as the Rotary Action Group for Economic Development ( or our page about this area of focus on My Rotary ( You can also send a message to Rotary headquarters at if you need assistance to prepare your community needs assessment.

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