Students from Nyimba Basic School at launch of the Home Grown School Feeding programme in June 2011 (Copyright: Victoria Cavanagh)
The recently launched Home Grown School Feeding programme is designed to bring benefits not just to school children but also to the wider community, particularly to small-scale farmers. The new programme will be implemented in 31 districts and aims to feed one million school-going children in 2011.
Some 2,000 boys and girls from Nyimba Basic School gathered on 16 June for the launch of the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme at their school in Nyimba, a rural district about 300 kilometers from Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
It was a day of celebration for the children who mostly come from local smallholdings. Gathered for the occasion were representatives of various Government ministries, staff from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and private sector partners including Tetra Pak, Parmalat and the Dairy Association of Zambia.
WFP’s acting Country Director Dr. Purnima Kashyap said the School Feeding Programme (SFP) had been transitioned to a Home Grown School Feeding programme for various reasons, one of which was providing extra economic benefits to local communities. While continuing to boost enrollment as well as attendance and retention rates, the HGSF programme should provide a ready market for small-scale farmers as the ingredients for school meals will be bought in the locality of each school. The programme's vision is local production for local consumption.
“A key component to this revised model is that it’s sustainable”, said Dr. Kashyap. “While the benefits for the children receiving the meals are plentiful, at the same time there is now the additional direct impact on smallholder farmers and dairy producers. By simultaneously benefitting the young and the agriculture and livestock sectors, together we are moving towards achieving Zambia’s Vision for 2030 - becoming a middle-income country.”
Dr Kashyap explained that the programme would play a significant role in contributing towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of equal access to education for boys and girls while providing protection against child labour and other forms of exploitation.
Guest of honour, Deputy Minister of Education, the Honourable Clement Sinyinda MP, said the HGSF programme had given the Government an opportunity to achieve three goals: to raise education standards, to improve the health of the population and to stimulate economic productivity.
The HGSF programme will be implemented in 31 districts and aims to feed one million school-going children in 2011. The daily food basket consists of maize donated by the Zambian government, pulses and oil donated by WFP, and milk donated by the Swedish government in partnership with Parmalat, Tetra Pak and the Dairy Association of Zambia as part of the Milk for Schools pilot project. This pilot will see some 16, 000 children in 38 schools receive milk cartons three times a week.
Over the past 45 years, WFP has implemented school feeding programmes in 68 countries around the world. Many, like Zambia, have transitioned into HGSF programmes.
Jane Chirwa joined WFP Zambia as an intern in May 2011. She holds a diploma in journalism from the Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka. Jane has previously worked as a reporter, a communications officer and a human rights activist.