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FG, WFP to Scale-up School Feeding Programme

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By Michy Abraham in Abuja

The Federal Government and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are working at scaling up the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP).

A statement on Tuesday by the WFP read in part that: “As schools reopen in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) with technical support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announces, it will be taking to the next level, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), launched by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2016. 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 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, and WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment, which includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools.

According to the statement, the hardware will not only support the Ministry’s efforts to digitalize 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.

The statement revealed that by 2021, this breakthrough initiative served school meals to over 9 million students in 53,000 public primary schools, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa, and has also led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country and 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.

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

The statement said: “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.”

Speaking on the programme, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq said: “The NHGSFP remains an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Through it hunger, malnutrition, poverty, education can all be addressed. 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 FMHADMSD 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.”

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On his part, WFP Country Director, Ronald Sibanda, said: “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.”

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