The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) has been described as a “trailblazer” in Africa as far as the implementation and development of the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is concerned.
According to a Senior Nutrition Officer and Project Manager at the AUDA-NEPAD, Ms. Kefilwe Moalosi, Ghana in the last few years has shown leadership and seriousness in the school feeding implementation in Africa and still continues to show clear signs and commitment to reaching more school children.
She noted that Ghana’s success stories, commitment, innovation and exemplary leadership in the school feeding implementation has compelled her outfit to make a strong case for Ghana to contribute to the forthcoming Africa School Feeding Day, on the 1st of March, 2022.
Speaking at a technical workshop on Home-Grown School Feeding Implementation Guidelines held in Accra, Ghana, Ms. Moalosi disclosed that most African countries implementing school feeding programmes do not have a fully-fledged established Secretariat with skilled, competent and effective management staff, like what Ghana currently has. The validation workshop was supported by the World Food Programme (WFP).
In line with their mandate to generate and preserve knowledge in Africa, the AUDA- NEPAD official noted that discussions are ongoing to develop a school feeding repository at AUDA-NEPAD to promote knowledge and experience sharing among AU member states.
In addition, she emphasised the need to create a platform for peer review mechanism and country exchange visits among African member states, where Ghana will play a critical role.
Meanwhile, the review and validation workshop on the Home-Grown School Feeding Implementation Guidelines, Ms. Kefilwe Moalosi, said will help determine if the format of the guideline is user friendly, practical and easy to follow; assess the operational challenges of using the guideline; determine if the draft guidelines cover all the necessary components of the Home-Grown School Feeding implementation; and address the common challenges experienced at country level.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr. Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah expressed her profound gratitude to the AUDA-NEPAD, World Food Programme, Partnership for Child Development, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other agencies that have supported the Ghana School Feeding Programme over the years to become what it is presently.
She said that the development of the Home-Grown School Feeding Guideline being spearheaded by the AUDA-NEPAD with support from WFP is timely.
The GSFP National Coordinator said the document will serve as a tool to augment the local efforts in strengthening the implementation of school feeding programmes, particularly in terms of food systems and nutritional quality.
Dr. Mrs. Quashigah implored AUDA-NEPAD to really consider Ghana as host for the celebration of the upcoming Africa Day of School Feeding, since Ghana is a pioneer implementer of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III which is the anchor of the Home-Grown School Feeding programmes.
According to her, when she took over as the National Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme, she has been able to introduce measures to address the main challenges of the programme especially in improving food quality, safety and hygiene.
Her administration, she noted, has also been able to increase the number of beneficiary children from 1,671,077 in 2016 to 3,448,065 in 2021 and also improved on the nutritional component of food served to pupils.
“We in Ghana have developed programme policy for the Home-Grown School Feeding; a draft Bill is awaiting parliamentary approval and currently reviewing our operational manuals.
“The GSFP has also subjected itself to assessment by independent external evaluators, and the recommendations of such assessments have been factored into restructuring the programme as a way of continuous improvement”.
Ms. Emma Anaman, Programme Policy Officer for WFP assured the commitment of her organisation to continue to partner with the Ghana School Feeding Programme to make it bigger and better for more children.
She said that children are the human capital of every country and that any investment in their future is not a waste.
Ms. Anaman underscored the importance of Ghana School Feeding Programme which she said has ripple effects on every sector of Ghana’s economy.
“Over 10,000 caterers, 38,000 cooks and several local farmers are working because of school feeding; and it is against this backdrop that we at WFP will want to see the GSFP bill quickly passed into law by the Government to create more opportunities”.
The Director of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mr. Mawutor Abloh, described the school feeding as a very important programme which needs to be sustained and expanded. He was optimistic that the Guidelines will help consolidate the gains made so far, and build upon it.
The Participants were taken through powerpoint presentations by the Nutrition and Food Security Independent Consultant for AUDA-NEPAD, Prof. Josephine Kiamba, on the Purpose and Overview of the Draft Guidelines; and Meeting the Objectives and Explanation of the Validation Process among others.
Meanwhile, the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme Implementation Guidelines was drafted in Ghana in 2019 by member states.
The similar workshops in person will be held in Cote D’Ivoire and Botswana; and to be held virtually in the remaining member countries.
By Edmond Gyebi