15 October 2012

Ghana School Feeding Prog. Policy in the Offing

The Ministry of local Government and Rural Development is taking steps to develop a National School Feeding Policy that aims to sustain and secure the programme.

The Ministry in collaboration with Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) is currently soliciting inputs from experts and target groups for the development of the proposed policy.

The Ghana National School Feeding Programme (GNSFP) has been running over the past eight years without a policy, and presently being governed by a programme document.

This, according to officials, has raised questions about the sustainability and security of the programme, hence the need for the development of the policy.

At a two- day policy scoping workshop organised for Technical Stakeholders at Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region, Mr Francis Y. Gyarko, Deputy Coordinator of the GNSFP, stated that the programme has been very successful but there remained a lot to be done to improve the efficiency of the system.

The Programme, according to him, though successful, had gone through numerous challenges due to the absence of a policy and a direct source of funding. There was thus the need for a policy to be developed and an Act of parliament to guarantee the sustainability of the programme.

There is the need to strengthen structures throughout the system in order to improve its efficiency, he added.

He explained that the concept of the programme was to provide children in the public primary schools and kindergartens with one hot, adequately, nutritious meal prepared from locally grown foodstuffs on every school going day.

It sought to improve school enrolment, attendance and retention among pupils in the most deprived communities in the country; promote an increase in domestic food production and consumption as well income of rural households.

Dr Esther Ofei Aboagye, Director, Institute of Local Government studies, who facilitated the workshop explained that the proposed policy must be viewed as an investment in the human resource of the nation and sustainable development as well as dealing with additional concerns of poverty reduction, food insecurity, local economic development , technological innovation, gender inequality and value addition to agriculture.

The workshop , she said, was to, among other things, gather and review essential information from relevant sectors and initiate situation analysis of current status and approach to school feeding in Ghana and elsewhere.

She indicated that since 2005 the programme has built on the gains, and implemented a rapid scale-up. Over the period, it became evident that the programme required more robust management and accountability system as well as re- targeting to ensure more equitable spread of the intervention.

Linkages between key stakeholders including schools, caterers and farmers needed to be strengthened, she added.

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