News / Africa

African Countries Feeding Students With Local Produce

At least five African countries have set up "home grown school feeding" initiatives aimed at improving child nutrition and developing local agricultural markets.

For Kenyan education official Nur Guleid, there is no food like home-grown food. "We have gone out to monitor at the school level.  They said they enjoy it [the food] because the food is fresh, they get it when they want it, it is easily accessible and available, and they are very happy about this program," Guleid said.

The Kenyan government gives money to schools in 36 districts reaching nearly 600,000 students.  A management committee in each school uses the money to purchase produce directly from farmers within a 50-kilometer radius of the school.

Farmers and school officials are connected through the Ministry of Agriculture's Eradication of Hunger in Kenya program.

Everyday in participating schools, each child receives 150 grams of cereals, most commonly maize, 40 grams of pulses, usually beans, five grams of oil used to cook the food, and salt.  Typically, the lunch meal is a stew consisting of maize and beans, called "githeri" in one local language.

Guleid says the program has made a huge impact, especially on the poor. "The children would have not come to school were it not for this food.  It takes them to school, it also keeps them in school [and] helps them improve on their performance and also their cognitive abilities," Guleid said.

Kenya is one of five African countries that have an active "home grown school feeding" initiative.  Programs are also found in Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Mali.  Other countries such as South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia are also setting up similar initiatives.

In these programs, local farmers supply produce to schools to feed students, with the aim of improving child nutrition and developing local agricultural markets.

The "home grown school feeding" initiatives are supported by a partnership of groups including the World Bank, the World Food Program, the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, and other agricultural, children's and women's groups.

One such partner is the London-based The Partnership for Child Development, which advises governments and organizations on how to coordinate links between farmers and schools.

Partnership for Child Development Home Grown School Feeding Coordinator Kristie Neeser says for many governments procuring food locally is a new and unusual concept.

"Over the years, a lot of it [food for schools] has been external aid coming in from other countries like the U.S. and the U.K.  Creating a new understanding about the opportunities for supporting local economic development within the countries has been a shifting of mindset," Neeser said.

When food is procured locally, individual farmers or farmers' cooperatives earn income from selling their produce to the schools.

Kenyan farmer Ruth Kihanga supports her three children by selling her beans and maize to a school near the town of Thika.  She also purchases food from other farmers to sell to the school, creating a network of grateful farmers.

"I have a small shop.  This shop I use to sell some [cooking] fat, sugar, soap and such things.  Those farmers who I buy maize from, then they come to buy some items in my shop," Kihanga said.

But farmers are not the only ones to benefit.

In Nigeria, the government transfers funds to the bank accounts of cooks, who use the money to purchase food from local markets.  Each cook prepares food for 50 children.  

"This has created nearly 3,000 jobs for these local women who are employed by the program.  The community members are involved in the hiring process for the cooks.  There is really strong monitoring at the local grassroots level.  Every week, each kid is supposed to receive one egg, and they do not receive the egg their parents will call in to the program and say, 'the cook has not provided the egg for the kids this week,'" Neeser said.

The Ivory Coast government, which feeds more than one million schoolchildren each day through its program, gives agricultural inputs to women-farmers' groups.  One third of what the women produce goes to the home grown school feeding program.

Food purchased in the program typically consists of local staple crops such as rice, maize, millet, sorghum, as well as local vegetables such as spinach, leafy greens, sweet potatoes.

Most programs supply the schools with one meal a day, either at breakfast or lunchtime.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid