We have successfully introduced an innovative School Feeding Initiative targeting Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDs) / Preschools. The ECD centers have, traditionally, served a snack that consists largely of maize flour – a meal that lacks adequate nutrients to address the critical nutritional needs of this age group and the malnourishment from which most of these children suffer. In order to improve the nutrient content of this snack (which often is even diluted) we have introduced a soya-maize premix flour in the schools. To ensure sustainable availability of soya parents have been provided with soya seeds and skills to plant soya in their farms to provide the school with soya needed for the preparation of the porridge /snack. The porridge is intended to provide at least 30 percent of the daily caloric requirements, as well as a significant protein provision. So far 16 schools with over 2000 children have benefitted from this initiative. More than 2000 parents have already been trained on soya production and are in the process of being trained in Sustainable Agriculture as well. About 100 teacher’s and cooks have been trained on pre-schoolers nutrition, soya-maize premix preparation and sanitation and hygiene.
A survey conducted by Dr. Shadrack Oiye has shown significant performance improvement with increased ability of pupils to concentrate in class with good energy levels, reduced absenteeism / increased class attendence.
With parents trained in improved agriculture techniques as well as basic nutrition knowledge we expect a long term improvement of children’s nutritional status (and their siblings). We estimate that direct beneficiaries of the program shall be at least 4000 by end of 2018. In 2019 more schools shall be embedded in this initiative.
Through this project, not only is the children’s nutrition being improved, but it also provides an opportunity to engage the parents with education on agriculture and nutrition.