By Aina ANDRIANALIZAHA in Madagscar
The Malagasy Government is dreaming big on how to scale-up its homegrown school-feeding programme. They want to use the resources and capacities they have locally to drive their national school meals economy and are looking closely to explore new opportunities in the local food system to ensure sustainability in local supplies. There are thousands of vulnerable children in Madagascar, who leave home to attend school on an empty stomach or without eating adequate food. Given the dire circumstances, it is important that the food is delivered in schools on time and is fresh and more nutritious to tackle child-malnutrition.
That is why on 4-5 September, the ministries of National Education; and Agriculture and Livestock, in partnership with the World Food Programme, organised a national forum on school-feeding to discuss local produce purchases for school meals in Madagascar. The forum was attended by multiple stakeholders, including representatives of Brazil, Honduras, Benin, Malawi, Zambia, DRC, and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) mission. Also in attendance were partners from national and international Non-Governmental Organisations working in school meals and others in areas of interest to the development of a national homegrown school-feeding programme in the country.
The national forum facilitated the sharing of best practices, experiences, opportunities, and challenges in the implementation of a homegrown school-feeding programme. It marks the Malagasy Government’s initial steps towards connecting various sectors, and multi-donor initiatives, as well as promoting peer-to-peer learning practices after it joined the School Meals Coalition in 2021. These partnerships will help the Government to accelerate the development of a national school feeding model based on local purchases.
According to Mr Jerry Randrianilanona, the Director of Basic Education and Early Childhood in the Ministry of Education in Madagascar, the forum demonstrated Government’s commitment to the Global School Meals Coalition and its goal to ensure that every child, on each day, receives a nutritious meal by 2030. “We are investing more in partnerships, in the spirit of the Coalition to strengthen initiatives for school feeding based on local production to ensure children can receive on time, locally produced and nutritious meals, and also use school feeding to drive the expansion of the local economy,” he said.
The national forum supported the Government to shape its commitments to school meals with a strong focus towards a sustainable transformation of the education, and health and nutrition systems. The Malagasy Government has committed to i). Scale up school feeding based on local procurement in the greater southern region of Madagascar by 2030, while annually increasing the government’s school feeding budget by 20%, ii). Ensure the sustainability of a national school feeding programme based on local procurement, iii). Expand socio-economic, and local nutrition and health development through local procurement from local producers for healthy, diverse, and nutritious school feeding, iv). To establish strengthened governance frameworks for scaling up the national school feeding programme based on local procurement; v). Improve school feeding based on local procurement as an action contributing to community resilience in the context of sustainable food production systems, and vi). Enhance strong, diverse, innovative, and collaborative partnerships.