High-level delegations from Senegal and Haiti visited Brazil between September 12th and 21st for an exchange on strengthening school feeding capabilities. The visit, which served to present the Brazilian example of linking government-supported purchasing from smallholder farmers with social protection programmes, aimed to help the delegations think about school feeding as a means not only of nourishing school children but also as helping domestic agriculture, boosting household incomes and establishing food security in deprived communities. The delegations were composed of ministers, technicians and WFP country representatives and proved to be highly productive and resulted in the preparation of action plans by each delegation.
WFP already has a close relationship with both Senegal and Haiti. Although being located in different continents, both countries suffer from similarly high levels of food insecurity and, being dependent on imports to meet consumption needs, the high food prices of recent years have exacerbated existing challenges. In Senegal 70 per cent of women and children under 5 are iron deficient and a little over half have access to iodised salt (CSFVA, 2010). Both of these deficiencies can be addressed through the establishment of school feeding programmes such as those operated by WFP in a number regions throughout the country, reaching 419,300 children. The importance of school feeding has been recognised by the government of Senegal, which in 2009 established a Division of School Feeding and hopes to make progress in implementing a national school feeding programme.
Senegal is also a participating country in the Purchase from Africans for Africa PAA Africa Programme with WFP, FAO, the Brazilian government and support from DfID. Through this efforts will be made to boost smallholder productivity and enhance marketing infrastructure and their commercial opportunities. Thus the Brazilian example of the integration of government-supported purchasing from smallholder farmers (PAA) with social protection such as the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), an inspiration for the PAA Africa programme, is an instructive model.
, 2 years on from the devastating earthquake that displaced millions, WFP has been helping the government with agricultural rehabilitation and school feeding. Currently, WFP provides hot meals in school each day to 1.1 million children and now plans to expand nutrition programmes
for 500,000 mothers and young children. Yet despite receiving impressive support from governments and organisations from around the world, 3.8 million Haitians (38 per cent of the population) are estimated to be food insecure.
Both countries came to Brazil at a very formative stage in their efforts to develop home grown school feeding initiatives. For the first week in Brasilia they received an introduction to the historical development and institutional framework of Brazil´s Zero Hunger Strategy
. Through a series of presentations they were given a comprehensive overview of the institutional mechanics that link farmers´ organisations, Government-contracted suppliers and social beneficiaries. Meetings were held with representatives from the National Fund for Education Development (FNDE), that manages the school feeding programme, the ministries of social development and agrarian development and the Government´s food supply operator.
In the second week the delegations travelled to Salvador, in northeast Brazil, to meet many of the key stakeholders along the food procurement supply chain. Field visits were held to smallholder farms and cooperatives and schools in both rural and urban contexts. They also had meetings with members of the local government and became familiarised with the involvement of civil society in administering the programmes. For Ibrahima Sall, Minister of National Education for Senegal, the value of the field visits is that they offered firsthand experiences that “finally convinced me of the necessity of implementing school feeding programmes in Senegal.”
The outcome of this study visit was the drafting of a country-specific action plan by both of the delegations that took into account the existing situations of each country and highlighted the aspects of the Brazilian model that were considered worth promoting in the respective countries. Senegal and Haiti found the legal framework of Brazil that establishes constitutionally the right to adequate food, as well as guaranteeing school meals for all children who need them, as a particularly inspiring example. Both delegations pledged to promote the importance of school feeding in their own countries through public awareness campaigns to build up political will for substantial investment. They also admired the institutional linkages between the federal and local governments, various rural extension services and farmers´ associations, schools and civil society organisations.
Alix Raymond, Technician Staff, National Programme of School Canteens, Haiti, says: “The mission allowed us to learn about the social sensitivity of policy makers in Brazil and that is really a reference for us […]This visit is going to allow us to improve Haiti´s school feeding programme”.
Ibrahima Sall, Minister of National Education, Senegal says: “This is an example for Senegal of how to integrate schools specially located in poor areas. The school canteen will serve as a link between home and school as well as between success and poverty. It also allows children to eat locally grown food and the stallholders to sell their produce. This is a very important system […] Senegal is working towards the idea of having school feeding really rooted in the school space”.
About the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger
The World Food Programme and the government of Brazil launched in partnership the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger to promote sustainable national social safety nets based on the successes and lessons learnt from the Brazilian experience. The WFP Centre of Excellence is a bridge for south-south cooperation in capacity development in the areas of school feeding, nutrition and food security. It brings southern nations together who want to learn and develop their own programmes. Since its official launch in November 2011, the Centre has organized a total of 14 study visits from 12 countries. Learn more about it at: http://www.wfp.org/centre-of-excellence-hunger/news