State takes over US$23m school meals project from World Food Programme

KENYA – The government of Kenya has taken charge over the school feeding project previously allocated to the global food-assistance agency, World Food Programme (WFP), reports the Nation.

The WFP, who have been sponsors of the school feeding programs in Arid and Semi–Arid areas in the country had earlier indicated that they were set to exit in June this year.

However, WFP will continue to provide technical support to the government of Kenya to ensure its success.

According to the Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, the government has allocated US$23.78 million (Ksh2.4 billion) to provide meals to more than two million children under the programme.

Plans to bring back the programme under government’s watch started in 2009 when the national home grown school feeding programme was introduced to provide meals to learners.

The new initiative was also geared at stimulating local agricultural production through purchase of food from smallholder farmers and local food suppliers.

Dubbed ‘home grown school meals programme’, the initiative will see schools given money by the government to buy food from local communities.

“This year, we have set aside US$23.78 million towards the school feeding programme where a large amount will go to the home grown programme with Sh10 per pupil.

Schools working with local communities will ensure the initiative is a success. The government will only procure food for four counties where food production is low,” said Dr Kipsang.

“We shall make sure our children get value for money in the way the food is procured.

We will also ensure the food is procured in time.”

So far number of children under the feeding programme has grown from 500,000 in 2009 to 1.6 million, said WFP Country director Annalisa Conte at the handing over ceremony.

The strategy was formulated in collaboration with the Brazilian National Schools Meals Program (BNSMP) with an aim to meet nutritional needs of school children.

It started with a milk program in the 1980s to not only increase primary school enrolment but also ensure a stable market for Kenyan dairy producers.

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