Food Security And School Feeding Initiatives Launched In The Gambia
BANJUL – The Government of The Gambia, the United Nations agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched the Millennium Development Goal 1c Initiative (improving food security through crop production intensification and school feeding in targeted regions). This is a four - year development project whereby FAO and WFP will provide technical assistance to the Government.
The project aims to increase household food security and incomes of the participating farmers; and to improve nutrition in school aged children. The initiative will also focus on increasing community awareness of appropriate nutrition and dietary practices.
The MDG 1c initiative is in line with government’s commitment to bolster the transition to a nationally owned and managed Home Grown School Feeding Programme. With additional assistance from the Technical Advisory Committee and the Project Steering Committee, navigation towards the MDG-1c target will be facilitated. School gardens, participating farmers, storage and logistics, school feeding, community awareness, nutrition and dietary practices, training of stakeholders, local procurement and capacity development are all instrumental for sustainability of this project.
Operating within the framework of a Capacity Development agenda, stakeholders will work together in tackling hunger and ensuring food security and at the same time address acute and child malnutrition. Consequently, support to school gardens will be strengthened to improve learning for nutritional education and increase access to complementary nutrients, such as vegetables for school meals.
The EU MDG initiative will result in significant value transfer to the communities and local markets, while providing nutritious meals to pre-and primary school- aged children. A WFP impact evaluation (2011) shows that school meals contribute to students’ minimum daily nutritional requirements and therefore ease the living expenses of the most vulnerable. The project will consolidate efforts gained in education and at the same time contribute to the overall goal of reducing agricultural poverty and increasing household food security.
“The goal of this 7.6 million Euros project is to improve food security and reduce hunger in the intervention areas thereby contributing to The Gambia's achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 1c Initiative,” said Agnes Guillaud, the EU Chargée d’Affaires.
With the partnership of FAO and WFP, the project will contribute to the sustainability of the Gambian agricultural sector enhancing the ability of participating households to increase the productivity of their farms with the potentials of producing in excess of their consumption requirements.
“Let me register how truly appreciative the Government of The Gambia is, of the various interventions of EU and the UN System. We truly value your support and partnership, and look forward to further strengthening the collaboration and cooperation in all spheres of national development”, said Honourable Abdou Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in his launching address.
“This will provide the opportunity for the Government, EU and the UN System to reiterate their common goal of enhancing development and eradicating poverty, as the project supports the country's food security drive and raising the income levels of our farmers,” he added.
“Food security is not an absence of hunger; it is the ability of a nation to manage it. With sustained partnership, joint efforts and a common desire to fight hunger, I am confident that this initiative will yield tangible, durable achievements.” said Vitoria Ginja, WFP Country Director, at the ceremony in Pakalibaa.
“Agricultural production and productivity growth remain essential for better nutrition, but more can be done. Agricultural research must continue to enhance productivity, while paying greater attention to nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and animal products”, the FAO representative in the Gambia, Babagana Ahmadu noted. “The MDG 1c project is very important for FAO simply because it will assist smallholder farmers and small scale food processors overcome production constraints and add value and contribute to the overall goal of reducing agricultural poverty and household food security on a sustainable basis,” he added.
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Isatou Njai, WFP/Banjul, Tel. + 220 998 8889