Kenya’s national home-grown school meals programme contributes to improving child health and nutrition by linking schools and local agricultural production.
Funds are transferred directly to schools, enabling them to purchase food from local suppliers and farmers. This allows to (1) increase local food production and promote small-scale farmers’ access to markets, while (2) improving school enrollment, attendance and completion. In 2016, the government-led home-grown school meals programme targeted 950,000 children in both arid and semi-arid counties. At the same time, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) continued to provide school meals for 430,000 children in the arid land areas and targeted schools in the informal settlements in Nairobi that are not yet covered by the home-grown school meals programme. To support the expansion of the programme, WFP also prepared schools in Nairobi, Tana River and parts of Turkana to transition to the home-grown model, involving another 152,000 children.
Kenya’s innovative home-grown school meals programme has long served as an inspiration to other developing countries, particularly “peers” in the region. For example, Namibia and Zambia, with the support from WFP as South-South Cooperation broker, engaged in a cross-regional peer learning initiative in 2016 on home-grown school meals programmes.
Apart from learning from Kenya’s model, the participating countries also used this opportunity for mutual exchange of experiences on how to monitor and evaluate national school meals programmes. For example Namibia presented its innovative “Namibian School Feeding Programme Information system” technology, which promotes immediate improvements in the management of the national school meals systems.
Beyond engaging in South-South Cooperation exchanges with peers in the region, Kenya also participated in a South-South study visit to Brazil. This trip informed the preparation of Kenya’s National School Meals and Nutrition Strategy, which will be launched in 2017.
The innovative features of the Kenya home-grown school meals program include:
1) The current fresh foods pilot in Nairobi county is contributing to the global evidence base on the impact of using different modalities for diversifying school meals. One innovation tested in this pilot is the incorporation in school meals of commercially unacceptable fresh foods, which have been rejected by export markets due to their appearance. Kenya provides nearly 10% of the EU’s horticulture market, exporting over 115,000 metric tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables annually. Nearly 25% of these fruits and vegetables that are fit for human consumption are rejected for cosmetic reasons, which amounts to over 75 metric tonnes each day.
2) The separate “Transitional Cash Transfer to Schools” pilot in Kenya’s arid land areas provides new evidence that, with the right support, even schools in areas with limited production and relatively weaker markets can purchase food locally, and empower parents and teachers to manage their own quality school meals programmes.
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Partnerships for the Goals
End malnutrition, especially in children, women, elders
Safety nets for food security and nutrition
End hunger, especially of poor, vulnerable, infants
Build developing country capacity on sustainable consumption, production
Encourage, promote public, private, civil society partnerships
Ensure access to early childhood education, care
Ensure achievement of literacy and numeracy
In Kenya 47 percent of the country’s overall population lives below the poverty line. High levels of malnutrition afflict the country’s poorest people. In the arid and semi-arid areas, around 369,000 children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition – with peaks of one in three in the most affected areas. Undernutrition is a leading cause of death among children under the age of 5 .
WFP works with the Kenyan Government to implement programmes designed to promote greater food security. Since 2009 WFP has been working with the Government of Kenya to facilitate the handover of its school meals programme (involving several thousand schools) to the Government and to support their transition to a home-grown school meals model.
Governments increasingly invest in home-grown school meals programmes because they are an effective safety net for children, farmers and communities, with the potential to foster development and well-being in the long term. Home-grown school meals programmes contribute to achieving various sustainable development goals: they facilitate access to education (SDG4), help improve nutrition (SDG2), and address the structural poverty of smallholder farmers (SDG1) (WFP, 2016) .
Kenya’s national home-grown school meals programme contributes to improving child health and nutrition by linking schools and local agricultural production. This is done by transferring funds directly to schools, enabling them to purchase food directly from local suppliers and farmers. The Kenyan home-grown school meals programme has several objectives that can be categorized into (i) increasing local food production and promoting small-scale farmers’ access to markets; and (ii) improving school enrolment, attendance and completion.
After the transition to the Government-led home-grown school meals programme, in 2012, the Ministry of Education requested WFP to assist them with expanding the programme into Kenya’s arid land areas. In response, WFP implemented a “Transitional Cash Transfer to Schools” pilot in Isiolo County. WFP and the Government of Kenya also started looking at options to introduce fresh foods into school meals. Several fresh food pilots in Nairobi county are underway, reaching almost 80,000 students in 91 schools.
The key partners of this programme are:
· Kenya’s Ministry of Education: responsible for the Government-led home-grown school meals programme;
· Kenya’s Ministry of Health: responsible for the inspection of food quality, food safety, guide menu planning and healthy dietary habits;
· Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture: responsible for promoting access of smallholder farmers to school markets;
· County Officials: responsible for supporting the Government in planning, oversight and monitoring;
· School Meals Committee: responsible for the administration and management of the home-grown school meals programme including procurement, food preparation and reporting at the school level;
· Local traders: participate in tenders and supply food to schools;
· Farmers’ organizations: responsible for informing farmers about market opportunities.
In Kenya’s home-grown school meals model, funds are transferred from the National Treasury to the Ministry of Education and then to school accounts. Each school meals programme committee – composed of 4 teachers and 4 parents – announces a call for tenders and buys food from local suppliers (traders or farmers) with a school meals’ bank account. This model is used in both rural and urban areas, linking smallholder farmers and traders to schools in both contexts.
As South-South Cooperation broker, WFP identified other developing countries in the region with similar needs, like Namibia and Zambia, and facilitated a South-South Cooperation exchange with Kenya as described in the Summary.
WFP, as a partner for technical assistance, provides capacity development support to smallholder farmers, small scale traders and food processors nationwide. This is done through training and coaching, food purchases, donation of equipment and facilitation of access to structured markets. Thanks to these trainings and market linkage forums, targeted farmer organizations are now aware of the business opportunity offered by the home-grown school meals market.
Photo credit to WFP/Challiss McDonough
Kenya's Ministry of Education
Kenya's Ministry of Health
Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture