Better planning, coordination, with well-trained workers will help Namibia record more successes in its Home Grown School Feeding Programme and enable it to achieve its national development objectives, a NEPAD Agency food and nutrition expert said yesterday in Windhoek.
It is important to improve policy and programme design, develop and strengthen capacities and improve coordination across sectors for better delivery of the programme, Boitshepo Giyose, head of Food and Nutrition Security Programme at the NEPAD Agency, said at the opening of a two-day workshop. The meeting is to enable stakeholders suggest ways of further improving the exercise.
“Without agriculture production and without food, there is no nutrition, no health and no education and limited socio-economic growth,” Dr Giyose said, stressing NEPAD’s perspective that the connection between agriculture, education, health and nutrition will result in a “quick win and quick impact” in any country implementing the programme.
Under the programme, participating schools buy the food given the children from local farmers, thereby providing the farmers with a ready market for their produce. The benefits to be derived include increased education and nutrition for poor children, improved learning capacity of school children, enhanced gender equality, enhanced income for farmers and the development of local agriculture.
The programme is part of NEPAD’s wider flagship initiative known as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The initiative was floated by African heads of state and governments in 2003 to tackle the food security crisis in Africa.
Not only will it result in increased food supply and boost responses to food emergency crises, it will also lead to better children’s nutrition and education due to the jump in school enrolment that is likely to be witnessed. From the health perspective, it will act as a vehicle for fighting diseases.
Also speaking at the forum, the permanent Secretary in the Namibian Ministry of Education, Mr Alfred Ilukena, said under the current National Development Plan, the role of the feeding programme is to ensure that vulnerable children, including those living with HIV/AIDS have access to education. From 78,000 beneficiaries at inception in 1996, some 270,000 children are enjoying the programme today, he said.
“The Namibian school feeding is also an important strategy for addressing inequalities in education, including providing access and expanding education opportunities for disadvantaged Namibian children,” Mr Ilukena said.
The NEPAD Agency is attending the meeting alongside delegates from the country’s ministries of Education, Agriculture and Health, development partners and multilateral organizations.