This decentralized evaluation was commissioned by the WFP Ethiopia Country Office and covers the five-year school feeding programme in Afar and Oromia regions in Ethiopia (2019-2024), funded by McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The decentralized baseline evaluation was carried out from 2020 to 2022.
The evaluation was commissioned to provide a situation analysis at the start of activities and was intended for both accountability and learning purposes. The evaluation focused on programme indicators developed by the country office based on USDA performance indicators. The baseline evaluation addressed 15 evaluation questions, grouped under five key questions:
- How appropriate was the programme?
- What are its results?
- What factors affected results?
- How sustainable are project results?
- What lessons can be learned?
The evaluation covered the School Feeding activities and Capacity Strengthening activities. The project is to provide school meals for primary schools (Grades 1–8), and also for pre-primary children on the same sites. The project's initial targets were to feed 200,000 children from 450 schools in Year 1, tapering down to 134,500 children from 348 schools in Year 5. In Afar, take-home rations (THR) will be provided for girls in grades 5 and 6 and boys in Grade 6. Various support activities will promote literacy, health, nutrition, and capacity strengthening.
Key evaluation findings included:
- Finding 1. The evaluation found that the programme is relevant to the needs of the target areas, schools, right beneficiaries, with the right mix of assistance in terms of their poverty, their food, the poor quality of education services, and low levels of educational attainment. In addition, the programme has strong gender relevance including special attention to disability and inclusion.
- Finding 2. The programme aligns with national systems and has strong coherence between government and donor policies.
- Finding 3. As baseline evaluation, it is too soon for judgments on project-specific outcomes. Flexibility in the school feeding menu, and ad hoc use of THR were sensible adaptations that avoided waste but also – on the evidence of the baseline survey and situation analysis – can be judged to have had substantial benefits for food insecure households experiencing the added stress of the pandemic. Also, the project is premised also on the potential for school feeding to strengthen educational performance by alleviating hunger. The evaluation also found correlations between food consumption scores and various indicators of child performance that strongly support this connection between adequate diets and school performance.
- Finding 4. The evaluation found that the pandemic and effects of internal conflict on supply lines mainly affected efficiency, especially for the timeliness of commencing the school feeding operation. However, USDA and WFP have acted flexibly to mitigate problems so that school feeding could be rolled out once the schools reopened and made other adjustments to forestall food losses.
- Finding 5. Current challenges to the theory of change assumptions must have implications for sustainability, and support for and commitment to school feeding remain evident at all levels of government and in communities. Implementation of the complementary components of the McGovern-Dole project is still nascent and will be a subject for review in the MTR and the final evaluation.