Brasilia- Nearly half of Malawi´s households are classified as having a poor food consumption score, something which is reflected in the country´s worryingly high child mortality rate. Malnutrition remains a widespread problem, with 48 per cent of children under the age of five years being stunted, 22 per cent severely malnourished and 5 per cent wasted (FAO, 2012). The establishment of a school feeding programme is thus of paramount importance to Malawi. Since 1995 several development partners, in particular WFP, have supported the launch of school meals programmes, which are now implemented in 1,006 schools and reach over 1.2 million children in 23 districts.
Malawi delegation hails follow-up mission an “inspiring experience”
The aim of Malawi is to scale up its national school feeding capabilities whilst also strengthening the links with agricultural production so as to increase domestic food production, household incomes and food security in deprived communities. As a participating country in both WFP´s Purchase for Progress P4P initiative and the Purchase from Africans for Africa PAA Africa Programme with WFP, FAO and the Brazilian government, efforts have been made to boost smallholder productivity and enhance marketing infrastructure and their commercial opportunities. Thus the Brazilian example of the integration of government-supported purchasing from smallholder farmers (PAA) with social protection such as the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), an inspiration for the PAA Africa programme, is an instructive model.
The delegation received a comprehensive overview of the institutional mechanics that link farmers´ organisations, Government-contracted suppliers and social beneficiaries. Meetings were held with representatives from the National Fund for Education Development (FNDE), the school feeding programme, the ministries of social development and agrarian development and the Government´s food supply operator.
Moreover, the delegates were taken into the field to get first-hand experience with a programme of visits ranging across the supply chain from family farms, a farmers association and a cooperative to beneficiaries such as schools and a government-subsidised restaurant. This also provided an opportunity for the Malawians to talk to key stakeholders in the food procurement system and to foster lasting partnerships for knowledge exchange.
The delegation responded enthusiastically to the study visit. Irene del Río, PAA Africa focal point at the WFP office in Malawi called the experience “inspiring” and felt confident that, whilst Malawi is in a very different position to Brazil, there are many things learned and observed through the study visit that can be implemented in an African context. For Eunice Kazembe, Honourable Minister of Education and Science and Technology, one of the insights that stood out was the “coordination at many levels of many stakeholders, civil society and various other players” rather than just a top-down approach. This, she says, will need to be developed in Malawi for its school feeding programme to be fully successful.
Jermoth Ulema Chilapondwa, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, says: “we´ve learnt a lot this week. [In Malawi] the farmers are ready. We need to encourage them to organise and engage in the national school feeding programme [...] This will be implemented.”
Eunice Kazembe, Honourable Minister of Education and Science and Technology, says: “This has gone a long way in helping us consolidate our school meals programme in Malawi [...] If we could take on board some of what we´ve learnt here it would be the entry point for a transformation [...] The Brazilian model may offer the missing link for us. ”
For more photos on the study visit please visit our online gallery.
About the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger
The World Food Programme and the government of Brazil launched in partnership the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger to promote sustainable national social safety nets based on the successes and lessons learnt from the Brazilian experience. The WFP Centre of Excellence is a bridge for south-south cooperation in capacity development in the areas of school feeding, nutrition and food security. It brings southern nations together who want to learn and develop their own programmes. Since its official launch in November 2011, the Centre has organized a total of 14 study visits from 14 countries. Learn more about it at: http://www.wfp.org/centre-of-excellence-hunger/news