Social innovation: tackling poverty through home grown school meal programmes
Africa and Asia delegations come to Brazil for study visit on school feeding initiatives
15th October 2012, Brasilia – “Let’s invest and believe in people, they are the solution”- this is how the Brazilian Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS) opened the doors of Brazlândia, small county in the suburbs of Brasilia, to delegations from Bangladesh, Republic of Congo-Brazzaville, Haiti, South Africa and a policy advisors of World Food Programme (Rome) interested in learning from food and nutrition security programmes.
The PAA (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos- or Food Acquisition Programme) promotes the access to food to millions of Brazilians in situations of food insecurity (read the joint FAO/WFP/IFAD report entitled “State of World Food Insecurity 2012”, released on October 9th 2012). In a world where 1/8 people go to sleep hungry and where, according the report, 870 million people in the world are undernourished, Brazil is taking a step forward, advancing fast: the figures show that, during the years 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, the total of undernourished in Brazil decreased from 14,9 % to 6.9 %.
Brazil wants to speak up to the world and the results are double-folded: by encouraging and feeding South-South Cooperation, Brazil has made notable progress in poverty reduction through its social programs, like Bolsa Familia and School Feeding Programme (PNAE), as well as PAA. On the other side, it is an inspirational case for other developing countries where poor people still lack access to Food, the most important element for our lives, our nutrition and productivity, leading to high acute malnutrition rates.
The field trip was organized by the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brasilia and MDS. The delegations were fascinated by the Brazilian solid food distribution program, as well as school meal programme. They visited a distribution centre, where food is taken there (mostly locally grown vegetables and fruits) and distributed to local chains supermarkets and to public schools. As the visit went on, they listened to the director of a public school in Brazlândia where the food provided to the students (breakfast, lunch and dinner) is purchased directly from family farmers.
During lunch time, where fresh typical Brazilian food was served, including arroz e feijao-rice & beans, we had the chance to speak with some of the visitors and exchange points of view on their social programs compared to the Brazilian context: “I am impressed by the transparency, the shared responsibilities, the common objectives and the Brazilian governance, where the government, states and municipalities are all involved in the implementation of social programmes and where they all contribute to the achievement of providing food to schools”, said the Ministry of Agriculture of Republic of Congo- Brazzaville – Mr. Rigobert Maboundou states. “In a world where children can give a lot to society and where they can really contribute to making a positive impact, the nutritional requirements of a child must be met, to keep him focused, energetic, able to learn and to grow in a healthy way”, adds the Congolese Ministry of Education, Mr. Hello Matson Mampouya.
“After the earthquake, where the UN made a significant contribution in helping us to rebuild, we are now a young group, hard-working and motivated, who came here to listen and prepare a plan of actions to implement in our country and provide school meals in our primary schools” -Mr. Desir Frisnel explained us, project coordinator of Aba Grangou, National Program Against Hunger and Malnutrition in Haiti. “We are learning a lot and hopefully we will try to create a model based on the Brazilian successful practices in our own country”.
Mr. Bablu Kumar Saha, Project Director of the School Feeding programme in Poverty Prone Areas in Bangladesh talked to us after lunch. He listed Bangladesh’s school meal programme achievements: created in September 2011, the programme has managed to reach and cover 1.4 million students of primary schools, for a total of 3 million schools providing a package of 45 micronutrient fortified biscuits to each of them. The willingness, the target of the Bangladesh government is to reach all the 17 million primary school children located in the poorest areas of the country by 2016, a challenging goal but a promising future for Bangladeshi children.
Showing a strong commitment to his work, Mr. Bablu also manifested some perplexity regarding the financial issues concerning the execution of these social programmes. “The WFP has been giving us an enormous help in terms of technical support and capacity building. Our Government, along with some NGO’s and some European institutions are giving a hand, but we need donors who stick with our case and help us build a better future for our children, the generation of tomorrow.
The World Food Programme is showing a high commitment for socioeconomic and human development causes, analyzing, researching, planning and implementing effective strategies for food assistance, school feeding, support to agricultural smallholders and farmers and for the creation of strategic partnerships. To view WFP latest Annual Evaluation Report, please click here.
However, as Mr. Bablu finally said “we are tying to get the message out so the world will know about our situation and hopefully we will fight together for this cause”.
As FAO highlights, “Good nutrition is crucial to reach the health, education
and economic goals contained in the MDGs since good health, cognitive development and productivity cannot be achieved without good nutrition. Poorly nourished children cannot grow and develop properly, resist infections and learn to their full potential. Malnourished adults are less capable of performing work and are severely disadvantaged in terms of their social and economic security”.
by Gaia Paradiso-IPC-IG
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