African Union Summit endorses school feeding

The African Union Summit decided to adopt homegrown school feeding programmes as a continental strategy to enhance retention and performance of children in schools and to boost income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.

The decision calls for the establishment of a multidisciplinary technical committee of African experts to undertake, with support from the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, a general study on the relevance and impact of school feeding in the African Union Member States. It also institutes the African Day of School Feeding on 1 March. 

The two-day meeting of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union officially ended on 31 January, at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The discussions about school feeding were included in the Summit agenda after the African ministers of Education, endorsed the decision to adopt homegrown school feeding as a strategy to improve education, boost local economies and smallholder agriculture, and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. The endorsement happened at the First African Union’s Specialized Technical Committee Meeting on Education, Science and Technology.

The endorsement of this strategy happened after the African Union sent a delegation for a study mission to Brazil, organized by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger. The delegation included H.E. Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union, and H.E. Mrs. Ali Mariama Elh Ibrahim, Minister of Education of Niger, who also participated in the technical meeting.

The ministers of Education prepared a briefing note recommending homegrown school feeding that was presented to the African Union’s Heads of State at the 2016 Summit. The document highlighted that the visit to Brazil was an opportunity to witness firsthand how Brazil has integrated school feeding into an extensive social protection programme. The delegation could also understand that homegrown school feeding, beyond its primary function of short-term solution to hunger, is a powerful tool for local development.

The declaration of the African Union Summit encourages Member States that have school feeding programmes to continue their efforts and invites other Member States to learn and adapt lessons from those running school feeding programmes to enhance access and retention of children in school.