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MBSSE, WFP Commemorate 7th African Day of School Feeding

The Deputy Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) Sierra Leone, Yvonne Forsen, said that 65 million children receive school meals across Africa. She was speaking as the continent observes the African Day of School Feeding. She noted that 20 million of these beneficiary children live in Africa, including Sierra Leone.

Forsen spoke made this pronouncement in Kambia during the commemoration of the 7th African Day of School Feeding, organised by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) in collaboration with WFP and other partners.

The occasion was organized on the theme: ‘Nutrition and human capital development in Africa through increased investment in home-grown school feeding.’ The event brought together representatives of Ministries, UN agencies, MDAs and other partners and I was designed to encourage bold actions to strengthen and scale up the home-grown school feeding programme in Sierra Leone.

Since January 2016, the African Union had designated March 1 every year as Africa Day of School Feeding for countries in Africa to renew and scale-up commitment to deliver home-grown school feeding to advance human capital development and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially 2, 3 and 4.

The Roman Catholic Holy Cross Primary School in Rokupr, Kambia District, is one of the 17 schools where MBSSE, JICA and WFP are piloting the home-grown school feeding programme. The Deputy Country Director of WFP said that the African member states, the African Union and UN partners have increasingly recognized and prioritized well designed and robust home-grown school feeding programmes to contribute to sustained growth and human capital development. She commended President Julius Maada Bio for introducing the National School Feeding Policy, which embraces the home-grown approach.

School feeding is a beneficial investment for the development of a country. The short and medium-term development plan of Sierra Leone, it’s meant to attract and retain children in school, improve their health, while simultaneously boosting the local economy, supporting agricultural development, and strengthening the local food systems.

Deputy Minister 2 of MBSSE, Mamusu Massaquoi, recognised the positive impact of the introduction of the school feeding programme on the Free Quality Education initiative, noting that the home-grown school feeding is core in the Government’s flagship programme.

According to the Deputy Minister, about 45 percent of school children in mostly food deficit and vulnerable chiefdoms in 2,355 pre-primary and primary schools currently benefit from the school feeding programme in Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Dr Theresa Dick, said that the Ministry contributes to the school feeding programme through its district offices by providing the requisite technical expertise and quality input in setting up school gardens and community farms. The Ministry, she said, also supports smallholder farmers engaged in the cultivation of rice and vegetables to contribute to the school feeding programme.

Representatives from JICA, EU and the Ministry of Health underscored the need for home-grown school feeding and committed their support to the agricultural sector.

The school headteacher, Adama Kargbo, thanked WFP and the government for the school feeding programme and stated that it has improved educational outcomes such as enrolment and attendance of school children.

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