Author: fpeel

Identifying priorities and filling the gaps: What’s next for NTDs research?

Timed to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs, this event will provide a broad overview of the latest scientific research for NTD control and elimination.

Through a series of rapid fire presentations it aims to provide a short sharp introduction to a wide range of new and cutting-edge research covering different diseases, specialities, countries, institutions, etc.

Alongside the rapid fire session, presentations will also be made by Sir Michael Dixon (Director of NHM) and  Prof Sir Roy Anderson (Director of LCNTDR) .

The evening event will be followed by a drinks reception.
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Partnership for Child Development update

Partnership for Child Development’s Dr Elisabetta Aurino presented the initial findings of a three-year impact evaluation of Home Grown School Feeding on communities in Ghana as part of the School Health and Nutrition webinar series.

Image courtesy of the Ghana School Feeding programme
Image courtesy of the Ghana School Feeding programme

Home Grown School Feeding programmes are government-led programmes which provide free school meals using food purchased from local smallholder farmers. PCD’s impact evaluation looked into the impact that these programmes have on the health and education of the school children who eat them and on the incomes of the farmers that supply them.  Initial findings have shown that schools that provided school feeding experienced higher enrolment and reduced absenteeism rates and that schools girls in particular benefited from HGSF with improvements observed in literacy and cognition. Analysis of farmers data shows that 1 in 3 households in communities with HGSF programmes increased the value of their agricultural sales. A complete analysis of this data will be completed in the coming months.

The SHN webinar is a monthly webinar supported by Imperial College London, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, GIZ and other leading organisations within the School Health and Nutrition field. To sign up to this webinar visit the webinar home at www.schoolsandhealth.org/Pages/SHN-Webinar-Series.aspx

Francis Peel
Senior Communications Manager
Partnership for Child Development

How buckets and digital gingerbread men are beating child malnutrition in Ghana

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 44 million children under five are either overweight or obese. At the same time in low and middle income countries one in five children are stunted due to poor diets. Malnutrition’s triple burden of stunting, micro-nutrient deficiency and obesity is a fact of life for many of the world’s children.

The good news is that every school day 368 million children sit down to a school meal.

This is important because we know from extensive research that school feeding is an effective way to fight malnutrition and improve life outcomes.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa are increasingly looking at ways to scale up sustainable school feeding programmes that source their food from local farmers. Known as Home Grown School Feeding these programmes can potentially act as a ‘win-win’ for local communities by providing free nutritious school meals to children whilst at the same time providing a market for the produce of local farmers.

One such country is Ghana, which through its Ghana School Feeding Programme provides free school meals to over 1.7 million children every school day.

To meet this challenge, Imperial College London’s Partnership for Child Development (PCD) in partnership with Dubai Cares is working with the government to pioneer a new approach that is tackling child malnutrition head-on by linking together nutritious school meals with community focused nutrition and hygiene training.

Gingerbread and buckets

Creating nutritionally balanced school meals using local ingredients is not an easy thing to do. This is doubly true when the children relying on school meals are from communities where food insecurity is high and malnutrition and anaemia are common conditions.

Menu-plannerTo help schools and caterers to develop nutritious school meals, PCD has launched a state of the art, easy to use web-based school meals planner which allows users to create and fully cost menus using locally available ingredients. By linking local market prices to the ingredients, the tool displays the actual cost of each meal to the user. With this information, programme managers are able to create accurate and realistic school meals budgets.

The strength of the tool lies in its simplicity; you don’t need to be a nutritionist to create healthy nutritionally balanced meals. Gingerbread children graphics to show how much a meal is meeting the recommended daily intake of nutrients as identified by the WHO.

The tool is designed to work in conjunction with ‘handy measures’ – everyday measuring utensils like buckets and spoons which PCD has calibrated to international standard units so that caterers can accurately recreate nutritionally balanced meals without having to buy expensive kitchen scales and equipment.

One such caterer is Stella who has just been employed by the Government to cook for the 100 children that attend the New Mangonese Primary School on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana’s capital city, “I’ve learnt a lot in terms of how to prepare food hygienically and measure it out accurately so I’m cooking the right amounts”.

Healthy Homes

Good child nutrition and hygiene starts at home. To ensure this, the programme is promoting healthier lifestyles by training 400 community based health and nutrition champions to take the healthy living message deep into their local communities.

Through community meetings, the distribution of tens of thousands of health posters and radio jingles, community leaders and parents are being taught simple and practical ways to ensure that their children stay healthy and happy.

As mother of two, Mercy Awonor from Accra, can attest these health messages are getting through to parents and children alike, “I always knew the importance of cooking my children healthy meals but I wasn’t always sure what food was good and what was bad. Now with all the posters around the village and the health messages on the radio I know the food I should be cooking. My children also know what is good for them”.

PCD’s Executive Director Dr. Lesley Drake says, “By coupling high tech digital resources such as the meals planner with low tech community engagement, integrated school feeding and health programmes are vital if governments are to tackle the malnutrition crisis facing the next generation”.

To find out more and to plan your own school meal visit http://www.hgsf-global.org/

Follow HGSFglobal

Like us on Facebook Facebook/HomeGrownSchoolFeeding

 

Francis Peel
Partnership for Child Development
Imperial College London

The Evolution of School Feeding

In 2013, up to $75billion dollars was invested by the governments of 169 countries into school feeding programmes. It is estimated that for every $1 spent feeding school children, $3 are generated for the local economy. Last week, a special meeting of global leaders in school feeding met in the UK parliament to discuss how governments are increasingly using school feeding programmes as a means to both improve educational outcomes and at the same time improve agricultural economies.

Kenya school lunchLeading experts including the Governor of Osun State, Nigeria and representatives from Imperial College London, the World Bank, the World Food Programme and the African Union were speaking at an All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development meeting on the evolution of home grown school feeding (HGSF) programmes. HGSF refers to school feeding programmes which procure their food from local smallholder farmers thereby supporting local rather than foreign markets.

The impact that a successful HGSF programme can have was provided by key note speaker, H.E Raul Argebesola, Governor of Osun State in Nigeria who said that since the launch of his State’s school meals programme (known as O’Meals) which feeds over 250,000 children every school day, enrolment has increased by 24%. The O’Meals programme provides employment to over 3,000 women and purchases food from over 1000 local farmers.

The experiences of Osun State tallies with that of governments from across the globe, the World Bank’s Professor Donald Bundy noted that analysis from the influential book, ‘Rethinking School Feeding’ that he co-authored in 2009, had identified that countries were increasingly turning to school feeding programmes as a form of a social safety net for their poorest communities. In Europe, in response to the recent recession, countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and the UK, had implemented school feeding programmes as means to protect their most vulnerable members of society.

This growth in school meal coverage provides an opportunity for local agricultural economies, Professor Bundy said, “School feeding programmes provide a structured demand for agricultural produce and can, when implemented correctly, encourage wider economic development. Even crisis hit countries such as Cote D’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan are shifting to nationally run programmes which procure their food from local smallholder farmers.”

Speaking on behalf of the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Ms Boitshepo Giyose agreed, ‘We’re seeing more and more sub-Saharan Africa countries adopted HGSF but they still need support to achieve this, international partners have a vital role to play in promoting cost-effective and sustainable programmes.”

Lesley Drake with HE Rauf Aregbesola and Peter Rodriguez (WFP) in the UK Parliament Great Hall with governor in hallway (12)

The meeting was co-hosted by the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) from Imperial College London who is working with governments to build the evidence base and provide technical assistance for the development of effective and sustainable HGSF feeding programme.

Speaking at the event, PCD’s Executive Director, Dr Lesley Drake said, ‘Research shows that when properly designed, HGSF programmes can act as a win-win for both school children and smallholder farmers alike.’

She continued, “For integrated school feeding programmes to succeed like they have in Osun, governments and development partners alike need to integrate HGSF into their policies, strategies and plans for agriculture and for education.

For further media information please contact Francis Peel at the Partnership for Child Development, Imperial College London on 020 7594 3292 or email f.peel@imperial.ac.uk