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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs