FIGHTING MALNUTRITION THE GHANA SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME WAY
Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) was launched in 2005 to encourage children to go to school, reduce poverty and improve access to food. From a pilot of just 10 schools this extremely popular government programme has expanded to feed over 1.6 million children from 3,000 primary schools with hot nutritious school meals that use food grown by local farmers.
The programme has achieved huge gains in school attendance whilst at the same time raising the income of local smallholder farmers. But even with all these gains, child malnutrition still persists. Today, the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) from Imperial College London, with support from Dubai Cares, have undertaken a nutrition project integrated into GSFP in selected districts across all of Ghana’s 10 regions which assists the Government to improve the nutrition, learning and wellbeing of Ghanaian school children.
Through its Home Grown School Feeding programme PCD supports government action to deliver cost effective sustainable school feeding programmes sourced from local farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of this PCD are working with the Ghanaian Government on a four year project which is building the evidence base around school feeding interventions which improve child nutrition, providing training to education and health professionals, and developing tools to empower communities and schools to take action to improve the nutrition, learning and well-being of Ghanaian children.
What we did / what we are doing
The main activities in the project include: the delivery of free nutritious school meals sourced from local farmers; promotion of good nutrition and hygiene practices; and the deworming of children.
Together with the Government, PCD are:
• Evaluating how the use of micronutrient powders put into school meals address child malnutrition and anaemia
• Training Government staff, teachers and health workers to provide deworming treatment to school-age children – to get rid of worms which affect child health, learning and nutrition
• Developing an online Menu Planning App so those in charge of designing school meals are able to see what foods are best for children and how much these cost
• Encouraging healthy lifestyles in the community through trainings and promotional materials such as radio jingles, posters and t-shirts – all aimed at promoting good health and nutrition practices.
The nutrition project began in 2011 and will run for four years, so far:
• 1000 staff have been trained to provide deworming treatment to 1.6 million children.
• 200 Government staff have been trained to create nutritionally balanced and cost-efficient school meals using the Menu Planning App.
• A Health and Nutrition Manual has been developed for School Caterers which has been used to train 1,110 school caterers on food safety and hygiene, cooking practices and basic nutrition.
Future activities will see that:
• 180,000 pupils receive micronutrient powders through school meals
• Training will be provided to 1,110 community volunteers on how to engage families to adopt healthy behaviours and teachers will be trained on using materials to engage children on issues relating to their health and nutritional well-being.