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Centre of Excellence against Hunger News

News from the Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger launched its 2014 Annual Report. The document highlights the Centre’s achievements and the challenges ahead. 

Since its creation three years ago, the Centre is involved in assisting more than 70 developing countries and 34 of which joined study visits to Brazil. Here they learned more about the Brazilian renowned experience in school feeding and in fighting hunger.

The numbers are impressive and they are already being translated in cases of success, like the support given by the Centre to Bangladesh and The Gambia. The government of Bangladesh has launched a restructuring plan of their national school feeding programme to follow Brazil’s strategy and expand the supply of hot meals instead of cookies in the schools; and The Gambia government draw a National School Feeding Action Plan after visiting Brazil with an ambitious objective: to move from a model supported by donors to a government-owned model, by 2020.

“In addition to the technical assistance to build governments’ capacity, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger also made efforts in the dissemination of ideas, concepts and best practices for overcoming hunger. For the second time, the Centre co-organized the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF), a key platform for the mobilization of people, institutions and governments involved in promoting school feeding as an essential strategy to achieve the Zero Hunger Challenge”, highlighted the Centre of Excellence Director, Daniel Balaban, in the report’s presentation letter.

More than 250 people from 46 countries gathered in South Africa to discuss the role of nutrition as a key component of sustainable and effective school feeding programmes, linked to programmes aimed at strengthening local agriculture.

According to Balaban, the year of 2015 will be crucial to the definition of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “We believe that the partnership and the cooperation among countries will be central to the debate and will be fundamental for the achievement of these goals, as well as the Zero Hunger Challenge. The Centre of Excellence against Hunger is prepared to fulfil its role to support the countries that are committed to changing their destiny towards economic and social development”, he declared.

Download the full report here:

In Portuguese

In English

In French

Since its creation three years ago, the Centre is assisting more than 70 developing countries committed to finding their own solutions to hunger and poverty, through south-south cooperation and capacity building.

A river called Atlantic. This is how Alberto da Costa e Silva, one of the greatest Brazilian experts in Africa, describes the historical relation between Brazil and the African continent. Narrowed by centuries of exchanges and migration these strong links drove a group of school cooks and teachers from São Paulo to Senegal, this week.

Between 8 and 12 of June, two teachers and two school cooks from the Municipal Education Network visited Dakar, capital of Senegal. They joined a technical mission from the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

The trip was part of an award granted for the first place in the Education beyond the Plate Award, organized by São Paulo Municipality in partnership with the Centre of Excellence to stimulate the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the schools, prizing the cooks and teachers responsible by the meals.

Based on these success stories, the proposal of the trip was to promote the exchange of experiences between Brazil and Africa. During the travel, teachers and cooks had the opportunity to present the school feeding programme implemented in the city of São Paulo to ministers of Education from 17 African countries – gathered in Senegal for a regional meeting about school feeding promoted by WFP.

Study visit to rural area

But what is it that children eat in the schools of Senegal? What type of food is prepared? How the communities organized themselves for that? What are the main challenges? What is similar and what is different from what happens in Brazil?

To answer questions like these the São Paulo teachers and cooks crossed the Atlantic and visited Africa for the first time.

Brazilian cooks and teachers meet Senegalese students and school staff at Oudiour Primary Public School

Photo: WFP/Mariana Rocha


“We are having a unique opportunity to inspire African countries to develop their own public policies to fight food insecurity”, said Erika Fisher, director of the School Feeding Department in the Municipality of São Paulo, that accompanied the trip.

Besides Erika, the group was composed by the teacher Sonia Maria Maruso Ribeiro, the cook Maria Aparecida Gomes Martins, teacher Dirce Zilles G. Borges dos Santos, the pedagogic coordinator Vivian Brandão Polli and the cook Claudia de Jesus Silva.

Tuesday, the 9th, they visited Oudiour Primary Public School, supported by WFP via a Cash&Voucher programme. The school is located 160 km from Dakar, in Gossas department, in the region of Fatick.

The school, that dates from 1962 and it is one of the oldest in Senegal, has 184 students registered in five different grades.

There, school feeding means active participation from the children’s mothers (called in French “les femmes mammans”). They work in shifts to prepare the two daily meals: snack and lunch.

The visit allowed a rich exchange of experiences between São Paulo’s and Oudiour’s teachers and cooks. The Brazilian group was warmly welcomed in the school and joined a snack time –when a traditional mix of corn and peanut was served.

The Senegalese community was very interested in exchanging ideas with the Brazilians teachers because the school receives mostly donors’ visits. The São Paulo cooks were able to put themselves in the Senegalese cooks’ shoes and even exchanged some recipes.

“The visit to the school was historical! We could learn a lot about the local reality, besides providing a testimonial about the relevance of our programme and to show how it can inspire colleagues from other countries to look for new horizons”, said Erika.

Later, the group met the school board and the parents committee that is very involved in the school’s activities.

It was in this same school in Oudiour that WFP launched in 30 April a new project, "School Canteen via Cash Vouchers", which is spreading to 260 schools and six new regions across the country.

Instead of traditional food distribution, WFP supplies school canteens with cash vouchers so that they can purchase local food themselves, boosting the local economy and stimulating family farming.

Exchange of experiences

Back to Dakar, in the next day, the group did a presentation about their work in São Paulo to the participants of the regional workshop on school feeding, organized by the WFP Regional Bureau in Dakar and the WFP Centre of Excellence.

The group presented a brief history of the school feeding evolution in São Paulo, highlighting that they also once received support from WFP and that progress took decades to be built. 

The cooks shared some challenges they face in the promotion of healthy meals in the schools and told the story of the creation of one school garden that was possible because of the idea and determination of teacher Sonia.

Erika also gave details about the Brazilian school feeding programme. The cooks explained to the audiences how the meals are prepared in the Brazilian schools and presented their winning projects in the Education beyond the Plate Award.

See more pictures on our Facebook photo album!

From 8 to 12 June, two teachers and two school cooks from the São Paulo municipal public education network visited Dakar, capital of Senegal. They joined a technical mission of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger to exchange school feeding experiences with representatives of 23 African countries.

Dakar, in Senegal, hosted a Regional Workshop on School Feeding, from 8 to 12 June. Held by the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar and the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, the event had the goal of accelerating the transition to nationally owned school feeding programmes in the West and Central African regions.

On Monday and Tuesday, the event included only WFP staff members. Participants discussed two new WFP policies, the school feeding policy and the south-south cooperation policy. They had the opportunity to learn about the international and regional contexts and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the many stakeholders involved in south-south cooperation and school feeding initiatives. They also debated the mechanisms available to coordinate the WFP’s and its partners’ efforts in order to develop innovative approaches for both themes.

After this first moment of discussions, the event was open to other audiences, to include representatives of 23 countries, as well as the 31 WFP staff members. On Wednesday, representatives of the participating governments joined the WFP focal points to exchange best practices and innovations of their school feeding programmes. It was an opportunity for the governments to work together with WFP representatives in designing the pathway to transition to sustainable country-owned school feeding programmes.

The debates aimed at strengthening the capacities of the different governments of the region to develop, improve and sustain nationally owned school feeding programmes, in a context of new perspectives and emerging challenges for the post-2015 agenda. Most of the participating countries already adopted ambitious school feeding policies, and their challenge now is to implement it.

Alexandrina Vera Cruz, coordinator of the National School Feeding and Health Programme of Sao Tome and Principe, explained how the support Brazil is providing for her country is helping them move from a WFP-supported programme to a country-owned programme. “We were a baby that grew up in a sustainable crib”, she said.

The importance of south-south cooperation

Many of the participating countries highlighted the visit to Brazil, supported by WFP Country Offices and Regional Offices and by the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, as a new boost to their ongoing efforts to develop innovative and sustainable school feeding programmes. They also emphasised the importance of strategic vision and planning in the search for resources to fund school feeding, the role of the legal framework in supporting the programmes, and how the multisectorial engagement of governments is crucial for the effectiveness of the policies.

The São Paulo delegation, composed by the winners of the Education beyond the Plate Award, presented the municipality’s school feeding programme to contribute to the discussions. They also presented the award, an initiative of the city hall, supported by the Centre of Excellence, to recognize the distinguished role of the school cooks in the promotion of healthy eating habits among school children.

On Thursday, the participants were divided into working groups to discuss the challenges for the transition to nationally owned programmes and their sustainability. From these discussions, the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar and the Centre of Excellence identified how they can support the governments to overcome these challenges.

The seminar was an opportunity to improve the quality of the technical support brought by the different WFP country offices, the Centre of Excellence against Hunger and the WFP Regional Bureau of Dakar, Johannesburg and Cairo to the governments. It was also an effort to promote south-south cooperation in the development of innovative and sustainable approaches for school feeding, by the establishment of the first francophone network of school feeding practitioners.

This Francophone School Feeding Network was launched on Friday, last day of the event, as a development of a meeting with West African countries held at the 2014 Global Child Nutrition forum, in Johannesburg last September. The meeting was an initiative of the minister of Education of Niger, and ministers from Benin, Senegal, Mali, Chad, Cape Verde, and Togo were in attendance. The Gambia and Côte D’Ivoire also sent representatives. The goal of this network is to expand the exchange of experiences about school feeding among francophone African countries.

Representatives of 23 countries  and 31 WFP staff members debate ways of accelerating the transition to nationally owned school feeding programmes in the West and Central African regions, during event organized by the Centre of Excellence and the WFP Regional Bureau Dakar.

The event will happen from the 28th September to the 2nd of October in the Salt Island, in Cape Verde, and it is being organized by the Centre of Excellence in partnership with the Global Child Nutrition Foundation and the government of Cape Verde through the Minister of Education and FICASE (Cabo Verdean Foundation of Social Action).

During the visit, the Cape Verdean Ministry of Education held a press conference in Praia to officially announce the forum. The declaration was made by the Minister of Education, Fernanda Marques, and by Felisberto Moreira, president of FICASE, responsible for the national school feeding programme in the country.

“To us, child nutrition is of special interest, particularly in the schools, and that is why this Forum is important to Cape Verde”, said the Minister. She also highlighted that the event’s objective is to put Cape Verde in the child nutrition world map.

Sharon also held meetings with United Nations representatives in the country and with members of the Brazilian embassy. Following, she visited the Salt Island to organize the logistic details of the Forum.

The last GCNF edition happened in South Africa and counted on the participation of more than 250 people, including 10 ministers and more than 60 authorities, representing 46 countries.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger sent this week to Cape Verde its Programme Officer, Sharon Freitas. She stayed three days in the country for a preparatory meeting to organize the next Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF).


As part of the technical assistance mission that the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger is providing to the government of Bangladesh, the consultant Nadia Goodman visited this week two schools located in Dhaka’s low-income areas.

Since March 30 she is in the capital, where she will stay for three weeks to support the government and the WFP country office in preparing a national seminar about school feeding, scheduled for June this year.

The two schools visited are part of the school feeding programme since 2009. The snacks are made out of fortified biscuits handed over daily to more than 1.500 children registered in the Sher-e-Bangla Government Primary School in Mirpur and in a learning center inside Bhasantek slum, ran by local NGO BRAC.

Many of those children go to school every morning without having an adequate breakfast. The WFP school feeding programme in Dhaka targets the ultra-poor population living in slums and assists 92.252 children in 573 schools – 114 Government Primary Schools and 459 NGO-run schools.

With the fortified biscuits, it is possible to feed each children during the complete school year for only US$ 30. An advantage of the school feeding programme is the increase of school’s enrolment. Since 2009, the average rate attendance improved by 22%.

According to Goodman, anecdotal feedback from teachers and parents revealed that students are less frequently absent as a result of illness, and are more attentive in class. “Evidently, urban school feeding has had an extremely positive impact on the health and wellbeing of ultra-poor school children, providing them with an opportunity to receive a meaningful education and break away from the cycle of poverty”, explains the consultant.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger consultant Nadia Goodman visited two schools located in Dhaka’s low-income areas. The three weeks mission objective is to support the Bangladesh government and the WFP country office in preparing a national seminar about school feeding


On 8 and 9 April, Senegal hosted the International Seminar about Social Protection in Africa. The event, a first of its kind, gathered 12 African countries and the Brazilian government to share experiences and promote the debate about social protection.

Organized in partnership by the African Union, Brazil, Senegal, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Instituto Lula, the seminar also counted with the participation of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, represented by the head of Programme, Christiani Buani.

Most part of the African countries experienced significant economic growth and social advances in the last decades. Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya, for example, adopted broad social protection policies such as school feeding and cash transfer.

“Social protection measures anchored in human rights and in social, economic and environmental sustainable development have the power to alleviate poverty, increase resilience in the medium class in Africa and boost the transformation of the continent”, said the UNDP deputy-director, Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, during her speech in the opening ceremony of the event in Dakar.

In the South-South cooperation context, the seminar has the objective to foster bridges between African countries and Brazil – internationally recognized by its cash transfer programme, Bolsa Familia, that contributing for lifting millions out of poverty in the country through integrated social policies involving the crucial areas of health and education

Senegal held a seminar about social protection in Africa. The event, organized by the Brazilian government, the African Union and UNDP, was attended by 12 African countries to share experiences.


The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger and the WFP West Africa Regional Bureau undertook a joint mission to support Benin and Togo in their efforts to develop school feeding strategies. The mission was the planning step to respond to the governments’ request for technical support in the design and implementation of national school feeding programmes.

The mission was composed of Christiani Buani, head of the Programme Unit at the Centre of Excellence, Omar Benamour, School Feeding and Social Protection officer at the Regional Bureau, and Erika Oliveira, Centre of Excellence’s school feeding consultant. The mission was in Togo from March 30 through April 1, and in Benin from April 2 through 5. Erika Oliveira will be in Benin and Togo for one month along with two national consultants, to assist both countries putting in place the operational plan for their national school feeding policies.

Both Benin and Togo approved national school feeding policies and are now in the phase of designing the programmes in terms of financial mechanisms, operational structures, establishing the link with local smallholder farmers, and creating the institutional framework, which includes establishing coordination among the ministries and governmental institutions that need to contribute to the programmes. Benin and Togo participated in a study visit to Brazil, organized by the Centre of Excellence in 2014.


In Togo, the mission met with the minister of Education, Florent Badjam Maganawé, who reaffirmed the government’s commitment to develop the national school feeding programme. He also mentioned his intention of engaging in the coordination of the different ministries in order to maximize resources and multiply the benefits.

The participants of the mission met with the school feeding committee, composed by representatives of the ministries of Health, Social Development, Education, Agriculture, Local Development and others. Many of the members of this committee were part of the delegation that participated in the study visit to Brazil. As a result of the study visit, the government of Togo requested the continued support from the Centre of Excellence to develop the country’s school feeding policy. The mission also met with other institutions that can contribute to the execution of the programme, such as the World Bank.


The WFP delegation met with the minister of Plan and Development, Marcel Alain de Souza, who is responsible for managing many aspects of the relationship between the government of Benin and WFP. They also discussed with the director of the school feeding programme the next steps of the WFP support to the programme and the challenges they are facing to advance the implementation of their plan.

Another important meeting was with the secretary-general and technical staff of the Ministry of Agriculture. They also met the local UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to discuss points of common interest and further cooperation. They also had a chance to discuss the post-study visit activities.

In both countries, the mission worked with the governments to approve the terms of reference for the consultants’ activities during the following month.

Benin and Togo received a special support from WFP. A joint mission by the WFP Centre of Excellence and WFP West Africa Regional Bureau visited the two countries to provide technical assistance in the design and implementation of their national school feeding programmes.


The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger participated in a training organized by Mozambique WFP Country Office and WFP headquarters about social protection and safety nets. The goal of the training was to capacitate the WFP staff on the basic concepts of social protection, safety nets and food and nutrition security. The event was also an opportunity to share WFP’s approach to social safety nets with external partners, including the Mozambican government, UN agencies, and cooperating NGOs.

From 9 to 13 of March, around 20 people discussed the roadmap of WFP’s work on social protection. The Brazilian experiences in safety nets, like the Zero Hunger Strategy, the conditional cash transfer programme Bolsa Família, the Food Acquisition Programme (PAA), and the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), served as inspiration for the discussions in Mozambique, which aimed at establishing how safety nets can contribute to tackle a country’s vulnerability and poverty and build resilience.

Vinícius Limongi, member of the Centre of Excellence’s Programme Unit, and Nadia Goodman, Centre’s consultant, went to Mozambique to present the Centre’s experience in sharing knowledge and engaging governments in initiatives to create sustainable solutions to fight hunger and poverty, through the design and implementation of public policies. More specifically, they explained the Unified Registry methodology, used by the Brazilian government as the main tool to identify the target audience of social programmes and to monitor the beneficiaries of such progammes.

Besides participating in the training, Vinícius Limongi also engaged in meetings with the Mozambique WFP country director, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Action of Mozambique, and representatives of the Mozambican office of the UK Department for International Development (DFID). These meetings aimed at aligning the Mozambican partners in the Partnership for National Social Development Initiatives (PNSDI), conducted by the Centre of Excellence with support from DFID. Participate in this initiative Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya, the Gambia, and Mozambique.

The WFP Centre of Excellence's team shared with the WFP Mozambique country office the Brazilian experiences in social protection and safety nets, including the Zero Hunger Strategy, the conditional cash transfer programme Bolsa Família and the Unified Registry methodology

From 2 to 6 March, a delegation from Sudan was in Brazil to participate in a study visit organized by the Centre of Excellence against Hunger and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The purpose of the study visit was to exchange knowledge with the Brazilian government on the integration between school feeding and family farming. The Sudanese government has a pilot project in this area and wants to create a national school feeding policy.

The delegation of Sudan was composed of three government ministers and six other senior Sudanese government officials. They were accompanied by the director of WFP country office in Sudan, Adnan Khan, and WFP staff Maysaa Alghribawy, responsible for liaison with the Sudanese government. Abd Elghani Elnaim Awad Elkarim, Ambassador of Sudan to Brazil, also attended the study visit.

In order to understand the complex Brazilian system of social protection and the fight against hunger and poverty, the delegation participated in meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Fund for the Development of Education, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the National Supply Company (Conab) and the National Council for Food and Nutrition Security (CONSEA). They had the opportunity to talk to the Minister of Agrarian Development, Patrus Ananias, and the National Secretary of Food and Nutritional Security of the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger, Arnoldo de Campos.

At the meeting with minister Ananias, Adam Abdalla Al-Nour Mohammed, Minister of Education of Sudan, said: "Brazil is one of the most successful cases worldwide of economic development and fight against poverty and hunger. It is a great chance for us to see for ourselves how Brazil has achieved it." The minister also stressed the similarities between Sudan and Brazil: "We have a situation similar to that of Brazil. We are a large country with a lot of land and natural resources, but we have food deficit despite these numerous resources. We want to establish a strategic cooperative relationship with Brazil to see how Brazil reached such good results in a short period of time."

Click here to see more pictures of the Sudan study visit.

Field trip

After meeting the political and institutional framework that underpin the implementation of programmes that integrate the Brazilian Zero Hunger strategy, especially the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), the Sudanese delegation participated in two field visits. At first, they visited Ceasa, central market for distribution of agricultural products in the Federal District. In Ceasa, delegates were able to see the markets for flower, organic products and fish, in addition to the Food Bank, a government agency that receives food products that are not in ideal condition for marketing and distributes them to social assistance entities.

They visited a public school in a poor community in the Federal District, known as Structural City, where they talked with teachers, cooks, the school director and the nutritionist responsible for school feeding. As part of the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE), the school buys food from family farmers, mostly fruits, vegetables and yogurt. After that, the delegation had lunch in the Structural’s Popular Restaurant, which is part of the Brazilian government's strategy to increase access to nutritious food for a fair price.

On the second day of field visit, the Sudanese were accompanied by technicians of the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Enterprise (Emater-DF), partner of the Center of Excellence, to visit family farmers and an agricultural cooperative. They visited the Association of Rural Producers of Alexandre Gusmão, in Brazlândia, the Federal District, which includes 400 family farmers and provides food for the PNAE and the Food Acquisition Program (PAA).

With this visit, the Sudanese delegation could understand the steps required for the organization of the farmers in order to comply with all governmental requirements to supply food for governmental programmes, such as the PNAE and the PAA. They were also able to verify the importance of technical assistance to improve agricultural production.

At the end of study visit, the delegation of Sudan has prepared an action plan, which will be validated by the Sudanese government and will have the support of the Centre of Excellence for implementation.

The Centre of Excellence against Hunger hosted a study visit for a delegation from Sudan, composed of three State ministers and six other high-ranking officers of the Sudanese government. They were in Brasília for five days to learn about the Brazilian experience in fighting hunger and poverty.

The Centre of Excellence against Hunger and the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS) launched a series of videos about the various programmes that help the population of the Brazilian semiarid find solutions to cope with the long periods of drought, characteristic of the region. The videos show the construction of rainwater catchment tanks programme for human consumption and for agricultural production and other programmes designed to ensure family farmers’ access to markets and improve their living conditions.

The videos were released in Portuguese in December and now are available with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. With beautiful images and touching testimonials, videos show how the Bolsa Familia, rainwater catchment tanks, electricity and the commercialization of food to the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) and the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) transformed the lives of the people living in the semiarid.

"First, we built the tank to store water for consumption, and we started to drink clean water, then the electricity arrived, it was a joy," says Juvita da Cruz, a smallholder farmer from the town of Uauá, in Bahia state. "Today I am proud to say that I am a farmer (...) because we have quality of life, the children study, we have our own transportation, guaranteed access to market," explains José Soares Simão smallholder farmer from Juazeiro do Norte, a municipality in Ceará state.

The videos are part of the reference material used by the Centre of Excellence to show other developing countries how the Brazilian social programmes are complementary and the impact they have on people's lives. They were produced as part of the Partnership for National Social Development Initiative (PNSDI), developed by the Centre of Excellence against Hunger in partnership with the MDS and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).



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A special series of videos show how Brazilians are now coping with the drought in the semiarid Northeast region of the country thanks to the investment in a simple and revolutionary solution: rainwater tanks programme for human consumption and for agricultural production.