WFP's Country Director in Rwanda Abdoulaye Balde greets Rwanda's Prime Minister Dr. Damien Habumuremyi at his office in Kigali. Copyright: WFP/John Paul Sesonga
Officials from the Brazilian Government and the Centre of Excellence Against Hunger are exploring ways to help Rwanda design its national school meals programme.
A delegation from the Government of Brazil and the Centre of Excellence Against Hunger visited Rwanda in August to meet Government officials who are developing the country's home grown school meals programme.
“A home grown school feeding programme can contribute to the development of the agricultural sector and help reduce poverty,” says WFP Rwanda Country Director Abdoulaye Balde.
The Government of Rwanda aims to develop a national school meals programme with a high degree of community ownership and, in doing so, to reduce its current reliance on external support. Through links with existing Government programmes, it should also help fight malnutrition, especially in rural areas.
The plan is to encourage the development of the agricultural sector by purchasing food locally, often from small farmers, and to provide technical assistance to farmers’ cooperatives. This gives more people access to a structured market which, in Brazil for example, has helped lift significant portions of the population out of poverty over the last decade and has also strengthened agribusiness.
Brazil is internationally recognized for its Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) initiative, which includes a school meals programme that reaches about 45 million children per year and has contributed to the reduction of poverty and food insecurity in the country.
“The home grown school meals programme was a main strategy in achieving the current educational, social and economic progress of Brazil”, says Daniel Silva Balaban, the director and representative of the Centre of Excellence Against Hunger.
Located in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, the Centre of Excellence Against Hunger was established by WFP in partnership with the Government of Brazil to help countries develop national school meals programmes.
In Rwanda, WFP has been providing school meals since 2002 in the most food insecure parts of the country and currently reaches more than 350,000 children in 300 primary schools. The programme has increased food security for primary school students, contributed to higher attendance rates, better school performance and helped reduce the drop-out rate.
John Paul Sesonga is from Rwanda. He has a law degree and a diploma in journalism from the Uganda Management Institute. He wrote various articles on economic and legal issues for Rwandan media outlets before joining WFP.