One of the greatest tragedies of extreme poverty is its intergenerational transmission. Poor, malnourished children do not develop normally, physically or cognitively; poor adolescents are unable to take proper advantage of educational opportunities and are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. After generations of poverty, many families and communities cannot envision cooperation to break this cycle. The Hunger Project (THP) works towards tackling poverty in Africa by partnering with local people to establish community centers ("epicenters") offering a comprehensive range of services, from health and education, to agriculture, microfinance, water and sanitation, as well as fostering community spirit. This randomized evaluation of THP's multi-faceted program aims to assess the impact on the various outcomes it strives to improve.
Researchers from Yale University and IPA have partnered with THP to evaluate the long term-impact of this strategy on health, nutrition, income, gender roles, social cohesion and education. The Hunger Project plans to cover the entire Eastern Region of Ghana, however it is neither feasible nor desirable to build all 112 centers at once. A lottery is conducted within each district to determine which of the 112 communities are offered a center in the first years (treatment group). Communities that do not win the lottery for early invitation, the comparison group, may receive an invitation a few years later. A pre-intervention baseline survey of approximately 4000 households with over 20,000 individuals was completed in 2008 and a follow-up survey of the same households will be launched in early 2013. The longitudinal nature of the survey allows us to examine if the effects of the centers are sustained over time and whether or not the strategy is financially sustainable. Generally, these centers aim to be economically sustainable within 5 years.