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650610
11/17/2016 - 11:34
School Meals

The Government of Namibia is taking charge of the future of its children with plans to introduce school meals to secondary schools – in addition to pre- and primary schools which are already part of the national School Feeding programme.
 
Currently, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is giving a nutritious mid-morning maize blend to some 330,000 pre-primary and primary school learners throughout the country.This is about to change for the better after the Ministry of Education developed an ambitious National School Feeding draft policy with technical assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP). 

 The ministry is looking at sourcing much of the food for schools from local producers. It is anticipated that the shift to buying locally as outlined in the draft school feeding policy will stimulate a stable demand for food at the local level and  also encourage the production of a variety of foods needed to diversify the school diet.

The policy recognises that investing in Namibia’s future is not a task for the government alone, but also demands the involvement of other actors such as local food producers, the private sector, local communities and civil society.

Happy to be eating with friends at school: Some of the learners at a school in Windhoek enjoy their maize meal during a mid-morning break. The Government of Namibia is planning to diversify the school meals to also include other foods such as vegetables and the traditional Mahangu porridge (millet meal). Photo: WFP

Anna Nghipondoka, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Education, says that expansion of the School Feeding programme will help address a number of challenges.

“These include high repetition and drop-out rates in primary schools. Expanding the meals to secondary schools will also help boost the enrolment rate, which is currently at less than 60 percent,” says Nghipondoka.  “School meals act as an incentive for learners to remain in school and that’s important during this difficult time of drought.”
 
WFP Representative in Namibia Jennifer Bitonde says where hunger is a problem school meals can improve learners’ health and nutrition.  
 
“In Namibia, the School Feeding programme provides multiple benefits such as improving learners’ performance in class and contributes to government efforts towards ending hunger,” says Bitonde. “WFP will continue providing technical assistance to the government to build upon accomplishments realised over the years.” 

Namibia is one of the few countries in southern Africa that has transitioned its School Feeding programme from being reliant on external funding to a sustainable model that is fully funded and managed by the government. The education authorities of a number of countries including Nigeria have visited Namibia to find out how this has been achieved. 

 

Amid worsening hunger triggered by the effects of El Niño-related drought, Namibia is investing in the expansion of its National School Feeding programme to ensure more learners receive nutritious meals and stay in school. 

650603
11/15/2016 - 16:37

Syrian mother Um Abdullah shares with us a simple, nourishing dish, as part of our series exploring the tastes of home of refugees and displaced families supported by the World Food Programme.

650573
11/08/2016 - 12:06
Food For Assets

Isaura Luis, her husband, and their two children live in a semi-arid district called Marara. They were not a typically food insecure household. They were not facing hunger until the end of last year when their crops were ruined by drought.

Of the six provinces hit by drought in the second half of 2015, Tete has had the highest number of people affected. A recent assessment conducted by the National Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN), carried out in late July, reported that 1.4 million people are in need of assistance in the country, and Tete accounts for 22 percent of them.

With no alternative work, Isaura (22) signed up to WFP’s Food For Assets (FFA) programme. It assists food-insecure families while providing opportunities for work paid in food, cash or vouchers. 

In partnership with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), small-holder farmers’ association ACEAGRARIOS, local authorities and community leaders, WFP identified people in need of assistance. Priority was given to female-headed households, disabled people, elderly people and households containing chronically ill members and orphans. 

“I’m working in the seed multiplication field’’, says Isaura. “I’m looking after the irrigation so the plants will germinate. The plants will then be distributed to the schools and for the people in the community.”

Seed multiplication is part of a larger government initiative started in 2010. Known as ‘One Pupil, One Seedling, One Community Leader, One Forest’, the scheme is designed to create community forests countrywide. Under this scheme, each pupil plants at least one tree per year in a school garden or in their backyard at home.

Isaura’s husband, a smallholder farmer, takes care of their children when she is irrigating seedlings by the weir over the Cachembe River in neighbouring Cachembe village. Isaura works also in the ACEAGRARIOS farm beside the Cachembe River. 

The food assistance she receives means that Isaura and her family do not have to migrate in search of work. It also means they don’t have to sell household assets to get money for food. 

By the end of this year, WFP expects to have assisted nearly half a million people through Food for Assets and general food distribution programmes supported by contributions from Australia, Japan and the United States. 

Isaura Luis and her family lost all their crops due to drought in Tete province at the end of last year. They were among the large numbers of smallholder farmers who suffered crop loss across Mozambique and who have had to rely on food assistance since then. With the rainy season now started, they and other families are hoping for more luck this time around. 

650568
11/04/2016 - 12:01
Cash and Vouchers

“With the war, I lost everything and I had to cross the Ubangi River with my wife and seven children to seek refuge and security in the DRC,” he says. “Upon arrival at the camp, humanitarian organizations fed us, gave us shelter and we could wash… without having to pay for anything. I did not expect such goodwill. I gradually realized that I could live in this camp thanks to the solidarity of invisible people." 

These “invisible people” to whom he refers include the people of the United States which funds WFP’s emergency operations for CAR refugees in the DRC. In Inke camp, WFP assists 17,000 refugees with food vouchers, amounting to $ 17 per person. Each month, they use these vouchers to buy food at WFP-organized food fairs. 

On the outskirts of the camp, Samba Ndiaye is working with some fellow refugees  among tomato plants and cassava in a large vegetable garden next to a pond. "Becoming a refugee is a paradoxical experience,” he says. “You experience a real disruption in your life. But it also forces you to become resourceful and determined. Although I didn’t know anything about agriculture, I decided to start planting my own vegetables with seeds I received from the Agency for Social and Economic Development (Agence de Développement Economique et Social or ADES)”. 

With this support, Samba and other refugees are now growing fruits and vegetables (gumbo, moringa, chili, onions, salads and papaya) and together cultivate an area larger than a football field. Despite the sandy terrain, they are harvesting produce that gives their families varied and balanced meals. Surpluses are sold to other refugees which makes Samba happy because his own project also benefits the entire community. Other surplus is sold at the market in Gbadolite, a nearby town. "I was able to start farming thanks to WFP food fairs that protect us from hunger. Once you eat, you can work - you see, I believe that refugees have duties as well as rights." 
   
In the camp, some call Samba "the wizard" yet his achievements are mainly due to his tireless work and positive attitude. "As refugees, we end up in a situation we haven’t chosen,” he says. “Yet we have to accept it, rather than constantly cursing events. I can say that I learned a lot of things in my misfortune, and that will be very helpful for me when I go back home, Insh' Allah”.

Samba Ndiaye has become a farmer following his arrival to the Inke refugee camp in north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He fled his country, the Central African Republic, due to violence and armed conflict that ensued in the wake of clashes between Seleka and anti-Balaka militias. 

650562
11/03/2016 - 15:00
Food Security Analysis

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

In an office in Niamey, Moustapha Daniel is busy placing calls to help WFP identify the areas most in need of food assistance and the food needs of the most vulnerable groups. By calling affected populations on their mobile phones from Niger’s first and only start-up incubator, operators at Itech Center,  are collecting critical food security information from remote and insecure areas where traditional face to face interviews are not possible. Founded in 2011, the Itech Center specializes in digital engagement in vulnerable communities and innovative technology development, and has been collaborating with WFP since the launch of mVAM surveys in Niger. Information collected through the mVAM data collection system is analyzed by WFP and used to inform strategic decision making and program response.

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

 “The respondents are very cooperative and eager to share information, although the unstable connection can pose a challenge,” Moustapha explained.  In fact, all beneficiaries contacted through mVAM surveys provided their mobile numbers in a previous survey and agreed to participate. Moustapaha is experienced at asking survey questions and explaining technical terminology in multiple local dialects. After contacting the same beneficiaries several times he is known by name and trusted to disclose information. 

Mobile phones were first used to collect food security data in two refugee camps in Niger.  After the surveys were shown to produce results similar to standard face-to-face interviews, they were judged as a valid data collection methodology. In July 2015, the Niger Country Office expanded mVAM in the highly volatile region of Diffa that has experienced an influx of refugees and displaced populations (returnees and IDPs) fleeing Chad and Nigeria due to insurgency and systemic violence caused by Boko Haram.

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

Aky Koura Malam Mari, a farmer who lives in Gremadi village in the region of Diffa, has responded to two mVAM surveys and participated in a focal group discussion on mVAM facilitated by members of the Niamey Country Office and Diffa Sub Office VAM team.  During the focal group discussion he acknowledged that, “mVAM is an essential tool for monitoring and evaluation.  It helps me keep track of the quantities and quality of assistance I receive since I know mVAM will ask for this information.” He recognized the value of providing honest information through mVAM that could be used to qualify and target WFP’s assistance. “I can use mVAM to share information with WFP that I wouldn’t normally disclose during a face to face interview,” Aky Koura shared, confirming mVAM’s capacity to capture insightful perceptions from beneficiaries on their food security needs and situation.

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

Circumstances in Diffa worsened in June 2016 following a series of attacks causing the displacement of over 40,000 people. As a result of the emergency and ongoing displacements, business and market activities in Diffa have been altered.  Market monitoring is therefore a crucial activity to understand the determinants of household food access. 

Encouraged by high response rates to mVAM surveys in Diffa, the Niger Country Office added a market questionnaire that is directed to traders and addresses the functioning of agriculture markets in the region.  By asking questions on the price and availability of different food stocks, the mVAM market questionnaire helps WFP understand the impact of its distributions and what types of assistance should be implemented for future interventions.

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

Sustaining mVAM technology for data collection relies on support and interest from national counterparts, which is fortunately the case in Niger. WFP is working with the Niger Government Early Warning System to expand mVAM country wide, starting with the collection of household mobile numbers in an upcoming vulnerability study questionnaire.  By introducing fundamental processes for utilizing mVAM, WFP is building national capacity while promoting food security.    

Continued partnership with Itech Center and the Niger government will ensure that WFP maintains close ties with the people it serves while gaining important insights on how to target its assistance and fight towards the goal of Zero Hunger.   

Photo: WFP/Marisa Muraskiewicz

 

Written by Marisa Muraskiewicz

In 2013, the country office in Niger made a significant step forward by deciding to develop its food security analysis in Diffa, and due to the continuing insecurity in that region, it made sense to try remote monitoring. Aky Koura Malam Mari was one of the first beneficiaries to participate in remote monitoring using the mVAM modality.  mVAM contacts beneficiaries on their mobile phones to conduct food security surveys in insecure and hard to reach places. By sharing his voice through mVAM, Aky Koura Malam Mari not only reinforces the responsibility and transparency of WFP and its partners but also strengthens the ties between WFP and its beneficiaries. 

 

650559
11/03/2016 - 11:23
Centre of Excellence Against Hunger, School Meals

In recent years, the national home-grown school feeding (HGSF) programme, supported by WFP, has been providing daily hot meals for the school's 2,000 pre-school and primary level pupils. This not only attracts children to school, it also encourages attendance and helps improve the children’s concentration and performance. A meal served at school saves money for the family and brings peace of mind to poorer parents whose child will not go hungry that day.

Kitchen staff used to complain of smoke inhalation while preparing the school meals. Pots had to be balanced on an open fire, making them unstable and dangerous to use. Members of the school’s Health and Nutrition Committee - made up of pupils, teachers and parents – put their heads together and came up with the smokeless stove solution.

"Community participation in decision making and establishing a 'school-community partnership' are the most important factors for the success of the HGSF programme in this school," says Head Teacher, Mrs Annah Njovu.

A POSITIVE ATTITUDE GETS THINGS DONE:  Deputy Head Teacher, Donald Hamusute, attributes the positive change to a collective effort. Photo:Evin Joyce

With some simple and cheap construction, the school built small brick and concrete structures, which keeps the cooking fire outside the kitchen but the pots inside, heated on metal plates. The total cost of modifying the school’s stoves was US$90: $30 for scrap metal, $30 for builders’ labour, $10 for bricks and $20 for cement. The construction was financed by reallocating money from school fees.

The success of the project has left everyone at the school happy and the Deputy Head Teacher, Donald Hamusute, attributes the positive change to a collective effort.

“It’s because of the positive attitude of our staff who want to do things in the best possible way," he says.

As well as reducing smoke inhalation among the school’s kitchen staff, the new stoves have other benefits. The metal plates that the pots sit on retain heat and maintain a stable temperature, allowing greater quantities of food to be cooked more quickly. The school has made considerable savings, not least in the amount of money they have had to spend on firewood.

Bulungu Combined School – just outside Mumbwa town in Zambia’s Central Province - uses adapted stoves that reduce the amount of firewood required to cook school meals for the pupils, and the amount of smoke the cooks have to put up with in the kitchen.

650499
11/01/2016 - 15:41

The West Nile region of northern Uganda is known for its tall teak trees.  In the Alere section of the Adjumani refugee settlement many of them were planted by South Sudanese refugees explains 28 year old Abiar Keech Bior.  Like so many, Abiar fled her home in Jonglei state South Sudan to escape violent raids in which men came and took away young children, stole cattle and set homes on fire.  

Having lived in the refugee settlement since 2013, Abiar and her family are some of the 65,000 refugees countrywide now given the option to receive a monthly cash allocation instead of their general food ration from WFP.  

“I’m very happy that WFP has given us a cash option. We get to buy Azam flour, a type that we like,” she said with a smile as she walks back from collecting her monthly cash allocation of UGX 196,000 or the equivalent of US$57.6.  “We don’t have to spend money transporting the food as money is light to carry. We also don’t have to grind the food we receive as we can buy milled cereal. Later this afternoon, I will go to shop in Adjumani town. I will stock up on Azam, cooking oil, beans, onions and sugar,” she added.  

Managing the Money

In 2014 WFP started offering a choice between food and cash for refugees who have been in the country longer in settlements where the surrounding markets are functional. At each distribution, WFP partners sensitize the refugees on the types of food they ought to buy with their money and how to make a budget to plan their expenditure.

Abiar is careful with her family’s monthly allowance and supplements the support from WFP by growing vegetables around her homestead, off land provided by the Uganda Government, and sells them in the market. This enables her to buy other types of food, such as meat, fish, more vegetables and milk, which her mother likes. She has no other source of income.

“Meat is expensive,” Abiar said.  “I only buy it about twice a month if I get some money from my market business. I don’t use the WFP money for buying meat.  I use it only for the key food items.”

Increasing the Impact

Cash is a more flexible and appreciated form of assistance among refugees as it gives them the ability to decide for themselves what they eat.  Cash transfers are also more economical for WFP to deliver and the benefits of WFP’s operation are extended to the local community by stimulating local trade through increased demand for locally produced food.

As such, WFP, the UNHCR and the Government of Uganda have agreed to expand WFP cash transfers. By March 2017, 200,000 refugees in Uganda will receive their food assistance in the form of cash. In three of the eight settlements where WFP provides both food and cash assistance, refugees will move completely to cash-based support by the end of 2016. In the remaining five settlements, refugees which arrived as recently as June 2016 and extremely vulnerable individuals will be given then choice between receiving cash or food.  

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) has prioritized cash distributions within its 2016 contribution to WFP. Other donors to the cash transfer programme in 2016 are Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and United States of America.  

 

 

 

Since 2013 nearly 560,000 South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in Uganda and WFP has assisted them by providing monthly general food rations to meet their basic food needs. Recently the WFP has introduced a cash programme, giving people the option to choose a cash allowance instead of food, providing them with the opportunity to decide for themselves what they eat.

650550
11/01/2016 - 09:18
Cash and Vouchers

Samar, 27, lives with her husband and their four children in a small, basic flat in Gaza's al-Tufah neighbourhood. The 2014 conflict worsened an already difficult situation in the impoverished strip and Samar's family, like many other families, had been trying to make ends meet long before the conflict started. Her husband has been unemployed since the start of the blockade in 2007, not unusual in Gaza that has an unemployment rate of more than 41 percent.

WFP/ Eyad al Baba

On her way back from the local shop where she has used her e-card to do some food shopping, Samar remembers how she never left the house for anything else other than home chores.

WFP is using voucher assistance to promote a healthy and more balanced diet. To increase the impact of vouchers on dietary diversity, mothers like Samar attend nutrition awareness sessions organized by WFP. 

WFP/ Eyad al Baba

 “I had been trying to convince my husband for years that I needed to get out of the house for something other than family errands,” she said. “Attending WFP's sessions was the first time I was able to break away from my daily routine and meet new people with similar interests.”

Samar says the six months of nutrition awareness sessions taught her about healthy diets, cooking, buying healthy ingredients using the vouchers and even caring for children.

WFP/ Eyad al Baba

"I learnt how to make traditional dishes healthier with only a few simple changes. When I came home from the sessions and shared what I learnt, I felt proud of myself," she says. 

WFP provides families with 60 percent of their daily caloric needs. Each month, WFP assists more than 180,000 people through e-vouchers.

In Palestine, many families are unable to buy healthy foods due to their high prices. To help families afford the food they need, WFP provides families with vouchers they can exchange for a variety of food staples in WFP-participating shops. This includes fresh produce and dairy products. In 2009, WFP used the voucher system for the first time in the Middle East in Palestine. Since then, vouchers have been used in a number of different countries around the region providing food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people and boosting local economies at the same time.
650549
10/31/2016 - 10:55
Climate Change

Elisabeth Ntakarutimana is one of the 55 community members in Rushanga district who received training on how to make and use fuel efficient stoves.  She is full of praise for the project which was initiated by WFP some months ago in her community.

“You cannot imagine how happy I am. Cooking in the traditional way was difficult for us because of the heavy smoke,” she says with a broad smile. 

This mother of six is ​​stunned by the small amount of firewood she uses and how quick the food is cooked.

"Now my four children are not late at school because the food is always ready on time; the project is really a pride of Rushanga," she adds.

 

Double Duty

Cooking fuel needs in Burundi are primarily met by firewood used on a traditional 3-stone open fire which can cause serious health problems as a result of inhaling toxic smoke.  The fuel-efficient stoves are made of clay mixed with sand and rice husks and use briquettes instead of wood,  saving 40-45% of wood compared to the three-stone fire.

The initiative is part of a broader SAFE (Safe Access to Fuel and Energy) project supported by WFP in Burundi, whose success relies on an innovative combination of energy-related and income-generating activities addressing various challenges linked to the access of cooking fuel. These include nutrition, livelihoods, health, gender and environmental.  Vulnerable populations often undercook or sell food just to buy or save on firewood, jeopardising their nutrition.   Collecting firewood for cooking is not only a burdensome task for vulnerable women, it also has an adverse impact on the environment.  

The pilot phase is covering 3,000 households in Gitega province, and WFP and partners plan to scale-up this initiative to reach 10,000 rural households by 2019 to meet their energy needs.

In Gitega province, central Burundi, WFP is supporting the making and use of fuel efficient stoves by the rural community. The pilot project is funded by the German Government and has been welcomed by the people in Rushanga district.

650546
10/28/2016 - 13:08
Purchase for Progress

Abdallah Mohammed Sugri (below) is one of more than 1,500 smallholder farmers in the Ashanti and Northern Regions who participated in the P4P initiative. The farmers were trained to improve food production, adopt good agricultural practices; and were supported to acquire farming tools and access new markets. The result has been an improvement in the quality of food they produce, a significant increase in crop yields and in their income.

"Before we joined P4P, most of the farmers in our group used to practice the ‘all die be die’ method of planting where we used to scatter seeds on our farms,” said Abdallah, secretary to Kpalsi Zisung, one of twenty-six farmer groups that participated in the programme. “After we were taught to plant in rows, my harvest increased to 100 bags of rice, more than double of what I used to produce.”   

Implemented with funding from the Canadian Government, the P4P initiative aimed to address some of the challenges facing smallholder farmers, such as low productivity, high post-harvest losses, inadequate market infrastructure and access to markets. The programme focused on maize, rice and beans, which are staple foods WFP purchased for its food assistance programmes across the country. 

The farmers were trained to improve the quality and storage of food they produced and equipped to reduce post-harvest losses which is the bane of most smallholder farmers. They were helped to construct warehouses and acquire tools such as tarpaulins, rice reapers and threshers, stitching machines, grain testers and mobile toolkits used to detect aflatoxin, a highly toxic chemical produced by mouldy grain.

As a result of improved food quality, farmers were able to sell to markets which they could not previously access.  By the end of 2015, they had sold 5,000 mt of maize and 100 mt of rice worth US$2 million to WFP for its food assistance programme, 50 mt of maize worth US$15,000 to Premium Foods, a food processing company, and 13mt of rice, beans and maize to caterers to feed 4,000 school children, under the home-grown school feeding programme. They also participated in a tender to supply food to secondary schools in the Ashanti Region.  

Gideon Aboagye, the former Director of the Ghana Grains Council, a private sector organization made up of grain value-chain actors, commended P4P “for reducing post-harvest losses and improving the quality of grains which farmers produce.” 

Introducing weighing scales

Before P4P, farmers in Ejura Sekyedumasi in the Ashanti Region had no scientific method of estimating the quantity of maize they sold. The traditional “bush weight” system consisted of farmers gauging the weight of large heaped bags which often weighed between 150kg and 170 kg, although they were only paid for 100kg, depriving them of the extra kilos being sold.

WFP provided weighing scales to the farmers during its first maize purchase in 2012. The farmers realized that this weighing system earned them more money than the “bushweight” system. Consequently, they appealed to their local government and traditional authorities to enforce the use of weighing scales through the enactment of a bye-law. Weighing scales were not available to all farmers in their district, and so they agreed to the ‘size 4’ as the standard bag to be used. Size 4 bags weigh 110kg, the closest to the 100kg weight.

“The flagship success story of P4P is undoubtedly the impact of weighing scales on the maize market in Ejura Sekyedumasi,” said Magdalena Owusu Moshi, acting WFP Country Director in Ghana. “This measure has more or less eliminated the traditional “bush weight system” which 'cheated' farmers.”

The Ashanti Regional Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Faalong concluded that the standardization of weights in Ejura proves that when farmers are well informed and organized, they are empowered to take decisions that improve their lives.  

WFP partnered with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and its department of Women in Agriculture Development (WIAD), Farm Radio international, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and several other government, non-governmental organizations, academic and private institutions to implement P4P in Ghana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pilot phase of the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative which began in 2010, has officially ended. Smallholder and low-income farmers who participated in it, as well as partnering organizations which trained them, unanimously agree that P4P has improved farmers’ lives and livelihoods, and more fundamentally, empowered them to approach farming as a business.