It has been five days of intense exchange of knowledge among representatives of 40 countries, from all over the world. Participants were invited to think about their countries’ strategies to ensure sustainable home-grown school feeding programmes, to discuss the benefits of investing in school feeding with focus on nutrition, and to propose ways for the group to influence the post-2015 global agenda. After debates, lightning rounds, side events, field trips, the 2014 Global Child Nutrition Forum is over.
The 250 participants, including 10 ministers and four deputy ministers of state from African countries, agreed on a communiqué that outlines the Forum’s views and recommendations on the role of nutrition in sustainable school feeding programmes, particularly where linked to local agriculture. The document recognizes the significance of the Zero Hunger Challenge, the Post-2015 agenda, and the potential of school feeding to contribute both directly and indirectly to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Based on this recognition, the communiqué recommends that governments consider school feeding programmes as an investment and not an expenditure, and that sustainable school feeding programmes that incorporate nutritious and diet diverse meals linked to smallholder farmer production be recognized as a key strategy for the achievement of the Zero Hunger Challenge, and the SDGs.
Daniel Balaban, director of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, said: "we can only achieve a good result if we work together. We need to persevere. If we work hard and believe in what we are doing, everything we want will happen." Gene White, president of the board of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, said: “we are closing today. It has been an incredible week, full of learning and sharing. We leave now back to our countries but we are still partners looking ahead to everything we can achieve together."
Exchange of experiences
Participants had many opportunities to share knowledge, especially during break time at the market place. The event’s programme also privileged methodologies to facilitate the exchange of experiences. During the lightning rounds, delegates presented the challenges and accomplishments of each country. The minister of education of Lesotho, Ms. Makabelo Mosothoane, highlighted the support received from the Centre of Excellence and the advance in school feeding her country experienced after the study visit to Brazil, but she also mentioned that capacity building, financial resources, schools infrastructure and difficulties in purchasing food from local farmers are still challenges.
The representatives of Mozambique told the group that the country created its National School Feeding Programme in 2013, which is still in pilot phase. They see great improvements in the purchase of food items from smallholder farmers and positive impacts on educational indicators; however the challenges are similar to those faced by Lesotho and many other countries. The Mozambican delegates also mentioned the partnership with the Centre of Excellence as game changing.
During the event, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger was reached by delegates of 20 countries interested in discussing in bilateral meetings the ongoing support they are receiving from the Centre or the necessary steps to begin a partnership with the WFP Centre of Excellence. In a bilateral meeting with Jordan, for example, Daniel Balaban explained what kind of technical assistance the Centre provides, how it was created as a partnership between WFP and the Brazilian government, and how Brazil’s policies were effective to significantly reduce poverty and hunger in the country.
The 2014 Forum was organized by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, in partnership with the World Food Programme’s Centre of Excellence against Hunger. The Global Forum was supported by the Brazilian government, through the National Fund for the Development of Education (FNDE), the Social Service for Industry Brazil (SESI), and the government of South Africa. The event organization was also supported by WFP South Africa Regional Office.