Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Eustarckio Kazonga, WFP Deputy Country Director Purnima Kashyap and Education Minister Dora Siliya at the donation of 15,000 MT of maize by the Zambian government towards the School Meals programme implemented by WFP. Photo: WFP/Mark Maseko
The Zambian Government's donation of 15,000 metric tonnes of maize to the School Meals programme run by the Ministry of Education and the World Food Programme should help meet the target of feeding 1 million children in 2011.
The School Meals Programme is currently transitioning into a Home Grown School Feeding Programme, said WFP Zambia Deputy Country Director Purnima Kashyap at a ceremony marking the donation which was attended by Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Eustarckio Kazonga and his Education counterpart Dora Siliya.
“We at WFP wish to thank the Government of the Republic of Zambia for the gesture of this donation,” said Dr. Kashyap. “This donation reflects the commitment of the government to support its vulnerable population by reducing hunger and promoting human development,” she added.
Dr. Kashyap said that in the new WFP Country Programme, the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Programme would be government-led and owned while WFP would facilitate capacity development in support of the programme. She said she was happy to note that the Zambian Government had, through the Sixth National Development Plan, identified school feeding as a strategy essential to achieving equitable quality in Early Childhood Care, Development and Education and Basic Education.
Dr. Kazonga said that school meals act as an incentive for children to go to school and concentrate on their studies. He said that the donated maize was part of stocks held by the Food Reserve Agency from the country’s bumper harvest of 2.8 million metric tonnes last season. He appealed to WFP to purchase more maize and other food crops directly from farmers so as to provide a secure market for their produce and also reduce the burden on FRA to purchase produce.
Ms Siliya said that WFP had been "a very good partner" in the School Meals Programme and acknowledged WFP’s ability to continue successfully helping to feed vulnerable school children.
“We in government are confident of WFP’s expertise and commitment in fighting hunger by providing meals to poor children in schools,” said Ms Siliya. “Studies have shown that children who come from poor families, if given a meal at school are more motivated to stay in school and learn,” she added.
Ms Siliya said that once the one million target is met, it should be sustained. She said that the Government wants the HSGF programme to be institutionalized and properly funded. She said that the success of the programme also depends on community support.
“We need participation from the local community….Parents, guardians, the leadership and everyone must participate by giving schools maize, beans and all the other food items needed for the programme,” she added.
In 2010, WFP Zambia provided hot school meals to 300,000 children in 829 schools in the country. Successful implementation of the HGSF programme should help Zambia attain Millennium Development Goals numbers 1 and 2: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and achieving universal primary education. It should also help Zambia become a prosperous middle-income country by 2030 in line with the country’s Vision 2030.