Local meals to fight hunger at school
The World Food Programme’s home-grown school meals in Burkina Faso enabled 127,000 students in 994 schools to receive a daily breakfast and lunch at school between 2014 and 2017. In Dori, the capital of the Sahel region and one of the most food-insecure areas of the country, 28 primary schools discontinued the regular mid-morning porridge made of imported flour and replaced it with locally-produced yogurt for some 5,359 students from May 2015. This “Milk initiative” not only connected small-scale breeders and women’s yogurt producers with the schools’ demand, promoting economic opportunities and gender equality, but also piloted a model of sustainable development in the country.
School meals provide a powerful incentive to send children (especially girls) to school and to keep them there, while ensuring students receive the nutrients they need to concentrate and learn more efficiently. The production and purchase of school meals from local small-scale farmers boosts local agriculture and transforms food assistance into a sustainable investment for the whole community.
School meals: Between 2014 and 2017, the World Food Programme provided daily breakfast and lunch to 127,000 students at 994 primary and pre-primary schools in Burkina Faso, ensuring the children received the nutrients they needed to concentrate and learn more efficiently. Girls also received a monthly ration of cereals to take home to their families to encourage enrolment and keep them in school. The daily meals were prepared on site by community members, mainly mothers of students, while the food stock was managed by a school committee, including a teacher, two students, two parents and two cooks.
The Milk initiative: From May 2015, we supported WFP in its endeavour to pilot the introduction of locally produced yogurt as part of the school meals provided in Dori, the capital of the Sahel region, one of the most food-insecure regions of the country.
The “Milk initiative” – new to WFP’s school feeding schemes across West Africa – was implemented through the Ministry of National Education and Literacy and gradually rolled out to some 5,359 students at 28 primary schools, successfully creating an ecosystem that boosts local economies, promotes gender equality and ensures children receive the nutrients they need while at school.
“Providing dairy products, which are among the preferred foods in this part of the country, will not only enrich children’s school meals but also provide a market for vulnerable small-scale farmers and women’s groups to earn extra income.”
Key achievements include:
- The establishment of two milk processing units by the members of two women’s associations in Dori (Kossam N’ai Bodeji and Kossam Saye Seno). With WFP technical assistance, the members of the associations were trained in hygiene and dairy product handling, enabling them to strengthen their governance and increase the quality and quantity of yogurt production.
- Improvements in the social and economic status of women members of both dairy units. These women are now self-reliant, provide for their families’ needs, are able to get loans from financial institutions and actively participate in job creation.
- The establishment of a sustainable value chain that includes small-scale breeders, milk collectors, yogurt producers and pre-primary and primary schools.
- The replacement of the regular mid-morning SuperCereal porridge made of imported flour with locally produced yogurt, stimulating yogurt production to increase from 100 litres per day to 700 litres per day over a 2-year period.
While school feeding programmes are generally known to promote access to and retention in school, the retention rates in the region dropped from about 88% to 83%, mainly due to security concerns and social practices. The Sahel region is mainly mobile pastoralist and children are still frequently forced to drop out of school, either to migrate or to support their families in income-generating activities.
“WFP has played a crucial role in the educational system. It has enabled schools to grow, as without school canteens, there would be no schools in the Sahel. This project will help our children grow and develop healthily.”