Ghana signs the PCD Technical Assistance Plan

exchanging_Ghana_TAP_feb_web_cropOn February 18th 2011, the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) adopted a Technical Assistance Plan (TAP) to serve as a working document for its operation. The overall objective of the TAP sponsored by the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) is to support government ownership of the programme and build the needed capacity to effectively implement and re-design the programme for a successful and sustainable running.

"The document will also ensure an enabling environment for effective collaboration with development partners and the civil society," said Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development. Mr Ofosu Ampofo, who addressed participants during the closing ceremony of a three-day sensitisation workshop for newly appointed Regional Coordinators and Programme Officers on Thursday, pledged government's commitment in the provision of an enabling environment for the smooth implementation of the Plan adopted at the closing ceremony.

The three-day capacity building workshop was held around the theme ‘Planning for Action: Building a Sustainable GSFP through Collaboration and Partnership’. About 70 participants took part in the workshop to gain skills and exchange experiences on how to strengthen the programme's implementation and solicit ideas to review the second phase as the first phase ends this year. The participants were also expected to be well oriented to understand the concept of home-grown school-feeding and their duties in their respective job descriptions. Major activities to be undertaken during the current transition period of the programme include re-targeting exercises to address some challenges encountered in the first phase of the programme as well as a final evaluation of the first phase. Implementers and partners of the GSFP are responsible for ensuring accountability and transparency in their handling of the programme.

Ghana is committed to the GSFP and as such has directed Cabinet to set-up an inter-ministerial committee to supervise the end of the first phase of programme activities. Mr Seidu Adamu, National Coordinator of the GSFP, appealed to the government to come out with a legislation to back the sustenance of the GSFP in order to identify and legalise sources of funding of the programme. According to the National Coordinator, countries that have chalked success in operating the Programme formulated basic laws to back its implementation. He disclosed that the Programme will soon introduce a draft bill to be laid in Parliament this year for consideration.

Challenges Ahead

The signature of the TAP, developed with the assistance of PCD, give a framework to tackling the challenges that lie ahead.

The Deputy Coordinator of GSFP, Mr. Francis Gyarko, mentioned some of the challenges hindering the smooth operation of the Programme such as the inability to link caterers to local farmers, the absence of clear government policy guidance, securing sustainable funds for running the GSFP and poor targeting of beneficiary schools.

Mr. Adamu also expressed reservations the selection of beneficiary schools. For instance, the Ashanti Region in the centre of Ghana, which is not one of the poorest in the country, has the highest number of 180,074 pupils that the programme feeds followed by Greater Accra with 126,281 pupils while the two Northern Regions where poverty is at its peak, have the lowest figures of 21,292 pupils and 32,624 pupils for Upper East and Upper West, respectively. Nevertheless, Mr Adamu noted that 700,202 pupils in all the 170 district assemblies were hooked onto the programme as of January 2011.

Mr Daniel Mumuni, Country Programme Manager of PCD, lamented that although the implementation of the GSFP had boosted school enrolment, attendance and other educational achievements, not much was known about the nutritional impacts of using local foods. He said PCD had been given 12 million US dollars by the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation to support activities of the School Feeding programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Besides PCD, the WFP is involved in the GSFP. Mr Ishmael Omar, Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said his programme would sponsor a pilot programme on linkages between small holder farmers and caterers. "To make the programme more home grown, we need to link caterers to small farmers within the vicinity of the schools. This will create a market for the small farmers and inject money in the local economy," he explained. Mr Omar pledged the WFP's assistance in the provision of a capacity-building programme to the GSFP. 

GSFP revisitedghana_tap_group

The basic concept of the programme is to provide children in selected public primary schools with one hot nutritious meal per day, prepaid from locally grown foodstuffs and to spend 80% of the feeding cost on the local economy. The GSFP was piloted in ten regions of the country in 2005 and has since grown to serve 1,695 public schools benefiting 665,624 school children in all the 170 district s in Ghana. The National Coordinator of the Programme, Mr. Adamu described the Programme as not just feeding pupils in schools but rather reducing poverty and said “ for anyone to appreciate  the effort of the programme,  one must understand the policies surrounding it”. The Programme has over the years achieved success in feeding school children, resulting in increase in enrolment especially at the primary school level.

At the closing ceremony of ‘Planning for Action: Building a Sustainable GSFP through Collaboration and Partnership’, Mr Adamu expressed his appreciation to Partnership for Childhood Development (PCD), and especially to Daniel Mumuni, the Country Programme Manager of PCD, for the NGO’s keen commitment to the School Feeding Programme, especially in the provision of the Technical Assistance Plan (TAP).

 

 

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