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School Feeding Programme Boosts School Enrollment across Nigeria

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Ene Okwanihe, Abuja

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says The National Home-Grown School Feeding programme (NHGSFP) has significantly increased school enrollment across Nigeria.

According to the World Food Programme as at 2021, the initiative has served school meals to over 9 million students in 53,000 public primary schools, which makes it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.

As schools reopen across the country, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) with technical support from the World Food Programme has announced it would take the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme to the next stage.

This decision results from a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021 to identify ways of improving, scaling-up and sustaining the NHGSFP.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Farouq said the programme remains an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

She noted that through the programme hunger, malnutrition, poverty, education can all be addressed and it is an investment that is fully funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria because of its sheer potential as a development driver.

“We at the Ministry are here to ensure that this programme is strengthened and sustained so that it can continue to support the needs of the children, families, women and communities it targets. The technical support from the World Food Programme is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated”

The WFP Country Director Ronald Sibanda, while commending the Nigerian government explained that one of the best ways of fighting hunger and preventing malnutrition among children is to provide them with a healthy school meal.

“Nigeria is a good example of where the Government has taken the lead from day one and invested resources and funding into the design and implementation of its National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. This is a great initiative and WFP is very pleased to provide technical support for the Government of Nigeria.”

Home Grown School Feeding initiatives promote nutrition education and better eating habits and encourage the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.

The WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment. This includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools.

The hardware will not only support the Ministry’s efforts to digitize its monitoring and evaluation system, but also enable the national roll out of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardize cost-effective menu development.

BOOSTING LOCAL ECONOMIES

The programme according to the WFP has provided a much-needed boost to local economies by buying the products of smallholder farmers and providing jobs to more than 107,000 cooks from low-income families.

Schools provide local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity. The children enjoy healthy, diversified food; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better, and improve their adult job prospects.

In line with one of the key pillars for sustaining the NHGSFP, several partnerships have been realised across various relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government, which have truly strengthened the collaboration and cooperation for a more effective service delivery.

Key partners include the National Youth Service Corp, Ministries of Agriculture, of Education, Information, Trade and Industry, Water Resources amongst others.

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