Unique programme features of the Ghana School Feeding Programme are:
GSFP stimulates food production in poor areas. At least 80% of the ingredients that the schools buy for their meals should be produced locally. In this way local farmers find a market for their produce in participating schools. Given that most poor people in developing countries live in rural areas and earn livelihoods in the agricultural sector, school feeding provides a promising synergistic entry point. It will not only improve educational outcomes, along with nutrition and health status of poor and undernourished children, but will also jump-start local agricultural production.
The organizations involved in SIGN represent the four pillars of society (government, civil society, science and business). The diversity of these actors’ backgrounds means that a wide range of expertise can be deployed. Where possible, the various different expertise can lend support to one other.
GSFP is a decentralized governmental programme. This means that the local Ghanaian administrators and communities are responsible for the programme’s success.
Home grown school feeding aims at providing schoolchildren with food which is locally produced. The approach is holistic and integrated. On the one side it aims to provide incentives for education and responses to nutritional gaps and ‘short term’ hunger. On the other side it aims to create opportunities for stimulating and improving local farmers’ production, expanding local demand and increase local market value.
GSFP has concrete numerical goals, such as numbers of schoolchildren and percentages of locally purchased ingredients. This makes its objectives clear and tangible.
Instead of a scattering of little bits of ‘good intention’, all the effort and expertise of the stakeholders is focused on one point: GSFP. The programme combines forces into one powerful initiative. SIGN also stimulates parties working in Ghana to join hands.
The initiators of GSFP and SIGN are aware that they do not know everything. Therefore, the programme is also a programme of learning by doing, and a new form of development co-operation. It will, where necessary, be updated and/or modified during its execution.
Example for Africa
Other sub-Saharan African countries are following the progress of GSFP with interest. If it succeeds in Ghana, others will follow. NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) not only played an important role in the concept of the program, but it is also following the developments very closely. Its aim is to consolidate country experiences and lessons learned and share progress with other governments.
The ultimate goal is that millions of undernourished children and hundreds of thousands of poor farmers will be helped to create a lasting solution to the problems of hunger and poverty.