New programme to improve nutrition in Ghanaian school meals

The Ghanaian Minister of Local Government and Rural Affairs, together with development partners, launched a new USD 3.7 million Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme which will improve the health, education and nutrition of over 320,000 school-age children in Ghana and the communities in which they live.

Ghananian school childrenThe four year programme funded by Dubai Cares will see the Partnership for Child Development, Imperial College London supporting the Government of Ghana in its efforts to improve the nutritional intake of children living in poverty and food insecurity through the provision of healthy school meals.

The new programme builds on the ongoing success of the Ghanaian School Feeding Programme (GSFP) which already feeds over a million children every school day.

HGSF programmes such as those in Ghana, which procure their food from local smallholder farmers have been shown to improve the educational achievement of children as well as supporting the economic development of smallholder farmers.

Children who are fed at school have higher attendance rates, suffer less from absenteeism and are more likely to concentrate whilst they are at school. There are few greater impediments to an education than an empty belly.

However, just filling children up is not enough. To protect them from malnutrition, anemia, and infection, programmes need to ensure they are feeding children healthy nutritious food, containing the necessary micronutrients and vitamins - they need to make sure that children are not infected with parasitic worms and to make sure that parents understand what the nutritional needs are in order to ensure that their children grow to be strong and healthy.

The new initiative looks to meet these needs by focusing on three main areas:

  • Improvements to the nutritional quality of the food so that the meals being provided contain the energy, protein, vitamins A and C, Iron, Zinc and iodine that children need. In turn, schools will advise farmers on what crops need to be grown to meet these nutritional needs. 
  • An education campaign targeting parents on the importance of education and nutrition for school children and their families.
  • A complimentary deworming programme which will ensure that it is the child being fed not the worms.

Speaking at the launch Dr Lesley Drake, PCD's Executive Director said, "This generous support from Dubai Cares to Ghana will make a real difference to the health, nutrition and education of school aged children and the communities in which they live. The Ghana School Feeding Programme provides an excellent example of good practice and this funding will undoubtedly strengthen the platform for sustainable Home Grown School Feeding Programmes across the continent, benefitting millions of children and farmers. Today is a good day for school-age children and for smallholder farmers."

Tariq Al Gur, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares also commented, "This programme will not only benefit school children, but marginal rural communities as well since the commodities required for producing the nutritious meals for school children will be procured from local farmers. This creates a self-sustaining cycle in which students receive the nutrition they need and household incomes increase.”

The Ghanaian School Feeding Programme (GSFP) will also focus on ensuring the programme’s sustainability by improving in-country management capacity and promoting cost effective delivery systems that can result in increased programme efficiency for the long term. This combination of effective delivery and increased capacity will enable the programme to be further scaled up in the future.

The programme was officially launched by the Hon. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo Minister for Local Government and Rural Affairs, Mr Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive of Dubai Cares and Dr Lesley Drake, PCD to an audience of representatives from Ghanaian Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture and representatives from the development community.

As part of the launch representatives of participant organisations visited local farms and schools to speak to the farmers, children and the wider communities who will be benefiting from this new programme.

Filming the project 

At the launch trip, a Dubai television crew, filming Dubai Cares funded projects as part of a Dubai humanitarian documentary series titled, "Sanad" , were also present. Here, they documented the project and interviewed PCD's West Africa Regional Director, Daniel Mumuni. Daniel outlined PCD's role in the programme as well as the programme's goals.  The Dubai Cares funded Ghana project was aired on the series on Dubai TV One on 25 July 2013. 

Read more press articles on the Dubai Cares launch for continued support of HGSF in Ghana:  

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