Helping communities implement home- grown school feeding in southern Madagascar

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) work together improve communities’ participation and diversify the school feeding programme rations.

Volana Rarivoson
Oct 26, 2017 · 3 min read

The three Rome-based UN Agencies are establishing a joint project aimed at diversifying the meals provided to school children in 20 schools of Ambovombe district, in the deep south of Madagascar. These schools benefit from the school feeding programme that the Ministry of National Education of Madagascar and WFP are jointly implementing for 274,000 primary school children in the south of the country and in the poorest urban areas of Toamasina, Toliara and the capital Antananarivo.

The south of the island is affected by recurrent drought and vulnerable to food insecurity. For the children from the most vulnerable families, the lunch provided at school is an important meal — if not the only complete one they will have during the day.

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Madagascar’s Ministry of National Education and WFP implement a school feeding programme for 274,000 children in rural areas in the south of the country and in urban slums of Antananarivo, Toamasina and Toliara. Photo: WFP/Haingo Raoelison

In this joint project, parents are encouraged to create associations and, with the support of microfinance institutions, develop income generating activities such as the cultivation of gardening crops and local fruit varieties; dairy production; fish farming and the processing of agricultural products.

WFP will continue to supply the school canteens with rations composed of cereals, oil and pulses while FAO will distribute seeds and small agricultural equipment to parents’ associations. IFAD will provide technical support to initiatives such as building micro irrigation systems and deliver agricultural trainings to the associations’ members in order to contribute to increasing crop yields.

“This win-win situation benefits school children who will receive meals made of locally-grown nutritious foods complementing the WFP-provided rations,” says Blandine Legonou, head of WFP Ambovombe field office. “At the same time, it will also benefit smallholder farmers who will have greater opportunities to market their produce.”

The cultivation of fresh products such as vegetables started in July, during the winter holidays. The first harvests are expected in October which marks the beginning of the school year. The crops will be divided in three parts: one will be sold to the schools; one will be sold in local markets; and the last one will be donated to the schools as a contribution from the parents.

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Parents in the assisted schools are encouraged to create associations and develop income generating activities such as the processing of manioc to complement the rations provided by WFP. Photo: WFP/Blandine Legonou

The Ankilimafaitsy Primary Public School is one of the schools that have been selected for this pilot project. Damy Mahatadidy, 14, has successfully passed his elementary school exam. “I want to be a Ramose (teacher) when I grow up,” he says. In Ankilimafaitsy, the community has started a small-scale livestock and a compost creation project, in addition to cultivating local nutritious varieties of vegetables in school gardens, which will enrich the school meals.

This project will contribute towards a nationally-owned school feeding programme in which communities play a key role as they take responsibility for maintaining and cleaning the school infrastructure, cooking the school meals, and managing the food stock and warehouse.

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The school feeding programme mobilizes the entire community. Children’s parents are responsible for cooking Photo: WFP/Volana Rarivoson

School feeding in Madagascar supports access to primary education, particularly in the drought-affected southern regions of the country. These areas face recurrent droughts that affect crops and reduce incomes and access to food for families and entire communities. In 2016, the drought was aggravated by the El Nino climatic phenomenon, which resulted in a food crisis affecting 800,000 people.

The school feeding programme is jointly implemented by the Government of Madagascar, WFP and other UN agencies thanks to funding from bilateral donors such as France, Norway, Japan, Russia; multilateral donors such as the Global Partnership for Education (World Bank) through the Government of Madagascar; and from private sector partners such as the FEED Foundation.

Learn more about WFP’s work in Madagascar.

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