Africa is a continent where 153 million people, or 26% of the population aged over 15, are hungry and do not eat or go without eating for a whole day, because there is not enough money or other resources for food, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Since 2016, when the African Union (AU) inaugurated the African Day of School Feeding, 39 African countries have taken the initiative to feed pupils who attend school. Countries with the best record so far are Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Zimbabwe, which all feed over one million pupils, and Nigeria, which was a late-comer to the scheme, now feeds 9 million children every day. Governments provide school feeding programmes, as they realise the benefits these bring.

Child eats his lunch at the Lewa Children

Burundi and Sierra Leone are two of the poorest countries in the world, so they are not able to do this. Bread and Water for Africa UK supports projects in these two countries that provide school feeding to nursery and primary students. Our partners in the field realise this benefits their children so much that they are operating these programmes without government support. If one looks at the benefits it is obvious that it is worth it.

As Murakaza School found out, a feeding programme increases cognition and improves learning, and the World Food Programme (WFP) has found that in countries with a feeding programme, test scores for school subjects improved. Another important benefit is that school feeding programmes improve enrolment and reduce school drop-out. In Laos, a WFP study found that school attendance increased by 5.5% a year, enrolment by 16%, while dropout fell by 9%.

Little girl smiles as she received a bowl of fortified porridge at the Murakaza school in Burundi

Another benefit is that better nourished children are less likely to pick up intestinal parasites, so their general level of long-term health is better. Studies also show that one year of additional schooling raises disease awareness and decreases HIV prevalence by 6.7%, with resultant longer-life expectancy and higher productivity. The government of Rwanda commissioned a study that demonstrated how malnutrition has an overall cost to the country's economy of £634 million annually.

Feeding with food grown by the school or sourced locally

According to WFP analysis, the strongest and most sustainable programmes are those that are locally-owned, and incorporate some form of parental or community involvement.

Pupil of the We Are the Future school eats her lunch of potato leaves and rice in Freetown, Sierra Leone

As our We Are the Future (WAF) school feeding programme has shown in Sierra Leone, when the food for the lunches is grown by the WAF kitchen garden, this can have the spin-off of expanding production food, which is then sold to local hotels and restaurants to generate income for the project. As David Randall mentioned after his visit to Sierra Leone last November, WAF’s garden is now growing a type of lettuce which is virtually unknown in Africa, so is much in demand.

Iceberg lettuce growing in the We Are the Future school garden in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Sylvia Costantini, BWAUK's CEO, explained that the staff who run the porridge programme at the Murakaza School in Burundi “source and arrange everything locally, ensuring the quickest solution and most effective use of our funds”.

Although school feeding programmes serve as many as 368 million students in almost every country, at the cost of $75 billion- which might seem a large amount at first sight - there are still many children who are left out.

Thanks to your support, Bread and Water for Africa UK is able to provide vital nutrients to some of the most vulnerable children in Africa. With your donation of just £2 a month, we can provide a daily bowl of fortified porridge to children in Burundi, while in Sierra Leone, your £9 can give a pupil with a warm healthy lunch for a whole month. 

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