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Cow Dung Provides Fuel and Fertiliser for Zambia’s Home-Grown School Feeding

LUSAKA – An innovative school feeding project involving cow dung was at the centre of a ministerial visit to Kamphambe primary school in Eastern Province last week. The Honourable Michael Kaingu, Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education (MOESTVEE) led a delegation to see the project that benefits education, nutrition, community development and environmental sustainability. The project is managed by the Government with support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Pride of place at the school is the ‘Zam-Digester’ that turns cow dung into biogas and was constructed by the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) with locally trained masons. The gas fuels an oven in the school kitchen where hot meals are prepared for 600 pupils every day. By using renewable energy, the project creates significant environmental savings for the school kitchen which would usually require 1,800 kg of firewood per year – the equivalent of a football pitch-sized forest. The by-product from the gas production process is used as a fertiliser in the school garden where pupils and their parents receive lessons on how to cultivate vegetables.

Kamphambe primary school is part of the Government of Zambia’s Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme. HGSF in Zambia provides almost one million school children with food purchased from local farmers.

“This is a project that’s cultivating a brighter future for Zambia’s children,” said the Minister while visiting the school. “Home-Grown School Feeding means using nutritious Zambian crops, grown by smallholder Zambian farmers to feed Zambian children. It means we need no longer rely on imports. And, if we can feed school children with locally produced food, we boost our children’s educational attainment, farmers’ incomes and support local and national economies.”

The biogas project – a model that could be replicated in other schools around the country – is implemented by SNV, the Netherlands Development Organisation, and funded by international food conglomerate, Cargill.

“The Home-Grown School Feeding programme is at the heart of WFP’s work in Zambia and its partnership with the Government,” said WFP Director for Zambia, Simon Cammelbeeck, while visiting the school. “What is especially evident here at Kamphambe school is that Home-Grown School Feeding offers great potential for community development and works best when the local community takes ownership of the programme.”

SNV’s Country Director in Zambia, Sue Ellis, was also part of the delegation. “The project demonstrates that we can prepare nutritious food for school going children without destroying the environment that they will inherit,” she said. “In this model, children and communities learn of nutrition-sensitive and climate-smart agricultural production and off-grid solutions for improving access to energy.”

As well as helping to construct the school garden and biogas digester, the Parent-Teacher Association at Kamphambe manages the delivery of food from Food Reserve Agency depots to the school. With support from WFP, the Ministries of Education and Agriculture have conducted pilot projects during 2015 that found PTAs are best-placed to negotiate prices and get food delivered quickly to their children. These ‘direct-delivery’ pilot projects are currently being expanded.

School feeding was introduced to Zambia by WFP during a food crisis in 2002. It became a Home-Grown School Feeding programme in 2010 and is increasingly managed and funded by the Government. The national objective is to increase the scale of the programme to reach two million school children by 2020. WFP will provide support based on its expertise in developing and implementing school feeding programmes that reach more than 18 million children around the world every year.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:

Evin Joyce, WFP/Zambia, Tel. +260 965 430 228, Mob. +260 972 549 148