On Wednesday 28 May the Government of Zanzibar launched a new innovative Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme in collaboration with Imperial College London's Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and Table for Two (TFT) to feed over 5000 school children, whilst simultaneously supporting local smallholder farmers by sourcing their produce for the school meals.
“This programme is the first of its kind for Zanzibar and marks the Government’s awareness on the value of school meals for society as a whole” said PCD’s East Africa Senior Programme Manager, Iain Gardiner. He continued, “Not only will children be well fed in school but jobs will be created for farmers and other community members involved in the growing, processing and preparing of food for school meals.”
Research shows that when children are well fed they are more able to concentrate and more likely to stay in school, and when these programmes source food locally they have the potential to build strong rural economies.
In northern regions of Pemba and Unguja where the programme is to be implemented these impacts are vital; here extreme poverty and child malnutrition is rife and only 66% of primary school age children graduate.
Working with the Government, PCD with funding from TFT are to monitor and provide technical support to the programme to enable an understanding on what works best.
Ms Michiko Ando, Secretary General for TFT said, “We are honoured to partner with PCD at this time - its 20 years of quality monitoring of effective school health programmes has heightened the importance of school meals as a safety net for children living in poverty and food insecurity.”
The programme was officially launched at a beneficiary school in Unguja’s Northern A District where Zanzibar’s officials from Zanzibar's ministries of education, health, agriculture and trade alongside PCD and TFT highlighted the programme’s value to HGSF stakeholders, press and other government personnel.
Deputy Minister for Education, Madam Zahra Ali Hamad said, “We appreciate the support provided by PCD and TFT for the benefit of our children and the education sector. The programme is being piloted in ten schools but the aim of the Zanzibar Government is to include all primary schools in this project.”