By Rohey Jadama
The World Food Programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), has organized a two day Midterm Review of the Capacity Development Project establishing the foundation for a nationally-owned, sustainable, school feeding programme from the 5 to 6 November, 2014 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Speaking at the occasion, Madam Victoria Ginja the Country Director of World Food Programme, said two years ago, they collectively launched the project “Establishing the Foundation for a Nationally-owned, sustainable school feeding programme”, a capacity development project to lay the foundation for a sustainable home-grown school feeding programme.
“While consolidating and improving on gains achieved in access to education throughout school feeding, the project also aims at strengthening the institutional and policy framework by providing guidance on school feeding implementation and management, local procurement and supply chain management, logistics, monitoring and evaluation, community engagement amongst other aspects,” said the WFP Country Director.
The WFP Country Director said this year being the first time in the history of school feeding in the Gambia, locally-cultivated rice was purchased for the school feeding programme as part of the pilot local procurement initiative. This, she added, was achieved through support of the EU and the collaboration between the Government, UN agencies particularly FAO.
The journey like any other, said Madam Ginja, has not been without challenges. She added that even though they have procured some rice locally, a lot of work needs to be done to create the right awareness at the regional and community levels and that both community members and smallholder farmers require a thorough understanding of the new school feeding approach and their crucial roles in establishing a successful link between agricultural production and school feeding.
“Let us also remember that school feeding goes beyond putting food on the table. It contributes to fight against hunger, strengthens existing social safety nets and ensures that our communities are food secure. School meals contribute to students’ minimum daily nutritional requirements and provide a significant value transfer to families, Home grown school feeding is therefore beneficial to both children and farmers and we have just concluded a local procurement feasibility study with support of the Howard Buffet foundation which will serve as a guide to exploring local agricultural markets,” remarked Madam Ginja.
Deputizing the Permanent Secretary, the Director of Basic and Secondary Education, who also doubles as the Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme, Mrs. Amie Coleh Mbaye, said with the aim of improving enrolment and retention rates in early childhood development centers as well as basic education level, government and WFP continued to jointly implement the school feeding programme in food-insecure and poor regions in the country.
Madam Mbaye outlined the Gambia governments increasing responsibility for the school feeding project to cover the expected 25% of its total financial cost in 2016.
“This review will reveal the rate of implementation as per the project design and objectives. It will also identify levels and types of successes and best practice worthy of adoption and replication, in the same vein the review should reveal the challenges and highlight the possible mechanisms that need to be employed to address them”, said the MoBSE Director.