LILONGWE— In early October, Malawian Government officials met with partners from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Brazil for historic discussions on the future of school health and nutrition in Malawi. The goal of the two-day consultative workshop hosted by WFP and Malawi’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology: to develop the country’s first-ever National School Health and Nutrition Policy. The Government of Brazil provided guidance through the WFP Centre of Excellence Against Hunger which is based there.
The policy seeks to provide quality education while promoting health and nutrition in schools. The Government also anticipates the policy having multiplier effects on improving overall national education.
“School health and nutrition interventions are essential to reduce major barriers for students accessing education and to improving their performance in class,” said Principal Secretary for Higher Education Patrick Kabambe.
The policy will also link school feeding directly with local agriculture by enabling schools to source food from community farmers. The idea behind the policy is to improve the nutrition of students while fostering sustainable demand and stable markets for smallholders, thereby enhancing community-wide economic and social development.
“This year we are reaching 9,500 students through our Home-Grown School Feeding programme, which provides school meals consisting of food sourced from local communities,” said WFP Representative in Malawi Coco Ushiyama. “This is an holistic, longer-term approach to school feeding that aims to improve the livelihoods of local farmers while at the same time improving the nutrition and health of Malawian children to encourage them to stay in school and finish their education.”
The workshop provided a forum for sharing evidence and best practices from the Brazilian experience that can be applied to the Malawian context. On the second day, the participants broke into technical working groups to develop specific policy statements and identify areas for policy intervention.
The final policy will provide the first overall framework for sustainable, coordinated and comprehensive health and nutrition programmes in the country’s schools.