The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) recently launched a capacity development project in response to support solicited by the government of The Gambia to establish a sustainable, nationally-owned home-grown school feeding programme in the country by 2020, a media dispatch obtained by the Daily Observer has disclosed.
The main objective of this development project, according to the release, is to establish the foundation for a transition towards a nationally-owned school feeding programme by building capacity of stakeholders and government counterparts, transfer knowledge and provide technical assistance. The project, it added, also aims at ensuring that achievements in enrolment, retention and completion rates as a result of the school feeding programme are consolidated and maintained.
"The capacity development project which targets more than 100, 000 students in early childhood centres, madrassas and the lower basic cycle is consistent with government's effort to guarantee access to basic education for all. Indeed World Food Programme recognises the commendable move of The Gambia government to take over the project, which highlights its commitment to invest in the future generation of this country. Successful school feeding requires a nationally led programme backed by political will and strong policy statements.
Government's role is therefore crucial in the implementation. In addition, the school feeding policy will be mainstreamed into other sectoral policies," the release underscored. It went further to state that ultimately, the project is guided with a focus to feed primarily on home-grown produce which will boost the local markets, as well as enhance the capacity of young and upcoming smallholder farmers within the various communities. Community participation is further reflected by the nomination of school cooks by the people themselves for a more effective operation of the school feeding programme, the release added.
"Informed by the 2011 impact evaluation and the comprehensive food security and vulnerability assessment, a joint school feeding programme is currently being implemented in vulnerable, food-insecure, rural and urban areas. The capacity development project will be carried out in close collaboration with other sister UN Agencies; such as FAO and UNICEF, who will provide technical assistance and guidance on nutrition, health and the promotion of school gardens, which is geared towards complementing the school meals," it further stated.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.In 2012, WFP aims to feed more than 90 million people in 74 countries.