INTERVIEW: Mr. Thomas Gonnet, Director of Action Against Hunger
Fight Hunger Foundation is India’s only non-profit specialising in child malnutrition
An interview of Mr. Thomas Gonnet, Director of Action Against Hunger in India.
When did you arrive in India and in which conditions?
Invested for more than 20 years with Action Against Hunger (ACF), I was appointed in 2013 to manage the office that we had just opened in New Delhi. The objective was to develop our projects of prevention and treatment of the infantile malnutrition in India. It was also to develop partnerships with other civil society organizations, and in particular to support the development of Fight Hunger Foundation, an Indian organization funded in Bombay in 2012 (www.fighthungerfoundation.org).
- What were you looking for in coming there?
Undernutrition is a plague that does affect about 40 % of the children of less than 5 years of age in India, both in isolated rural communities and in urban contexts. 6 million of them are in situation of severe acute malnutrition, which requires a therapeutic treatment as a matter of urgency. Yet, hardly 1% of the concerned children have at present access to these care services. Our mission is to help the Indian government, vulnerable populations and all actors involved in the sectors of health and nutrition to develop effective and long-lasting solutions.
- Can you explain to us the functioning of ACF in India (organization, mode of action)?
ACF has a liaison office in New Delhi and operational teams in Rajasthan and in Madhya Pradesh. In addition, it relies on the teams of Fight Hunger Foundation whose head office is in Bombay. All in all, 90 people work directly for the projects. Our objective is to treat 80,000 children affected by severe malnutrition during the next three years. The stake is to identify and to train good Indian experts, and to develop fundraising in India so as to secure sustainable financial resources.
- What are the main projects of ACF in India / in Bombay?
After three years of pilot projects in 200 villages (two districts), ACF and Fight Hunger Foundation have signed partnership agreements with the Ministries of Health of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra to scale up their interventions in fifteen districts during the next three years. In Bombay, besides a research project on the nutritional therapeutic treatment with the Hospital of Sion, we are training actors in the health and nutrition sector, and do intervene in the slum of Govandi.
- What message do you wish to share with the French community living in Bombay?
In spite of the striking disparities which we are confronted to in Bombay, there are real opportunities to accompany the change. ACF and Fight Hunger Foundation are engaged in the mobilization of entrepreneurs and volunteers to organize key events like the participation to The Marathon of Bombay in January 2016 and The Run Against Hunger with schools, to strengthen their presence in the media and the social networks, and of course to implement projects in the field.