School Feeding Programmes (SFPs) are a powerful safety net in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, reaching about 80 million students per day with an estimated investment of US$4 billion per year. However, programme sustainability and quality require improvement to ensure that the full range of benefits reaches vulnerable students. Inefficiencies and weak capacity rather than the lack of resources are the main constraints to prevent children from suffering from hunger at school.
Leading policy-makers and practitioners of national SFPs in the region have asked WFP to lead a regional initiative to strengthen national capacities towards quality and sustainable SFPs. As a starting point, they have identified the main capacity development needs adn the existing technical and operational competencies across the various countries. This 3-year project will use WFP's comparative advantage and leverage exisiting strengths identified in specific countries to bridge the capacity gaps.
Through South-South cooperation, knowledge management, training and technical assistance, this regional initiative will mobilize the efforts, expertise and rich experience in SFPs from countries in the LAC region. The project will help to build consensus around the use of WFP's "Eight Quality Standards" (EQS) as guidance to analyze gaps and promote improvements in the quality and sustainability of SFPs. The EQS and their 27 indicators cover all relevant aspects of a quality SFP. Once adopted by stakeholders, they will guide comprehensive programme analysis and development of the following:
- strategy for sustainability
- National policy frameworks
- Stable funding and buegeting
- Needs-based, cost-effective quality programme design
- Strong institutional arrangement for implementation, monitoring and accountability
- Strategy for local production
- Strong partnership and inter-sector coordination
- Community participation and ownership
The project will directly benefit authorities by strengthening government capacities to design and implement good quality and sustainable SFPs. It will work specifically with key proffesionals and practitioners responsible for designing and implementing national SFPs in the 12 countries with WFP presense in the LAC region. The project will benefit not only ministries of education but also related sectors such as health, agriculture and social assistance at central and local level. More than 20 million vulnerable students in assisted schools in these countries will benefit indirectly by participating in improved SFPs.
The project will draw from WFP's 46 years of experience in SFP design and implementation, it's brokering power and its experience in SFP desing and implementation, its brokering power and its experience with national capacity development activities in the region. It is in line with WFP Strategic Plan 2008-2013, WFP School Feeding plicy, and WFP and United Nations operational guidance on capacity development. The project's capacity development approach is needs-based, responding to specific governments' requests.