Ongoing efforts by the Federal Government towards successful implementation of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) gained a boost on Monday, as United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed its commitment towards successful implementation of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) as schools resume for the 2022 academic year across the country.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, gave the assurance during the joint assessment of the Q1 2021 implementation period with a view to improve, scale-up and sustain the Programme.
She noted that the “National Home Grown School Feeding Programme remains an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Through it, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, education can all be addressed. It is an investment that is fully funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria because of its sheer potential as a development driver.
“We at the FMHADMSD are here to ensure that this programme is strengthened and sustained so that it can continue to support the needs of the children, families, women and communities it targets. The technical support from the World Food Programme is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated,” she noted.
In his address, WFP Country Director, Ronald Sibanda who applauded the present administration for the successes achieved so far, described the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme affirmed that: “One of the best ways of fighting hunger and preventing malnutrition among children is to provide them with a healthy school meal.
“Nigeria is a good example of where the Government has taken the lead from day one and invested resources and funding into the design and implementation of its National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
“This is a great initiative and WFP is very pleased to provide technical support for the Government of Nigeria.”
Home Grown School Feeding initiative which was launched in 2016, seeks to promote nutrition education and better eating habits and encourage the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.
Under the new arrangement, the World Food Programme which is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment. This includes; tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools.
The hardware will not only support the Ministry’s efforts to digitalise its monitoring and evaluation system but also enable the national roll-out of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardize cost-effective menu development.
By 2021, this breakthrough initiative serves school meals to over 9 million students in 53,000 public primary schools, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.
According to the Organisers, the Programme also “led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country. Moreover, the programme has provided a much-needed boost to local economies by buying the products of smallholder farmers and providing jobs to more than 107,000 cooks from low-income families.
“Schools provide local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity. The children enjoy healthy, diversified food; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better, and improve their adult job prospects.
“In line with one of the key pillars for sustaining the NHGSFP, several partnerships have been realised across various relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government, which have truly strengthened the collaboration and cooperation for a more effective service delivery.”
Some of the key partners include; National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Federal Ministries of Agriculture, of Education, Information, Trade and Industry, Water Resources, amongst others.
According to the joint assessment team, “over 30 million Nigerians have benefited and continue to benefit directly and indirectly from different clusters of the programme making it the largest social protection programme ever carried out in Nigeria and one of the biggest in Africa.
Many who were hitherto poor have been lifted out of poverty through the Conditional Cash Transfers they now own small businesses thus improving their quality of life significantly,” the Team noted.