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The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil is a partnership between the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Government of Brazil that started back in 2011, with the support of other partners, such as the UK Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It enables other developing countries to tap into Brazil’s successful Zero Hunger experiences for learning, sharing and adaptation through South-South and triangular cooperation. In the last five years, forty countries have benefitted directly from the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil's activities and its innovative approach on school meals, nutrition, social development and capacity strengthening.
Building innovative partnerships between governments, companies and organizations is at the core of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil’s strategy to support other countries in their fight against hunger and malnutrition and to help them reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
High-level government officials, international NGOs, international donors, researchers, and school communities (including staff, teachers, cooks, and students) are among the Centre’s stakeholders.
All technical assistance activities of the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil start upon request for support of a partner government. The multidimensional approach of the Centre can benefit any country, not only developing countries, who are facing challenges in designing and implementing sustainable school meals or social protection programmes.
The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil is supported by a vast network of partners. New partnerships (in Asia for example) are crucial to maintain, increase, and improve the activities of the Centre to support developing countries in tackling hunger and malnutrition. In addition, the Centre also conducts many joint initiatives such as research projects and dialogue forums in specific countries. These help to foster the development of innovative solutions to overcome hunger and poverty.
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Partnerships for the Goals
Ensure sustainable, climate-resilient food systems
Mobilize resources for poverty programmes and policies
End hunger, especially of poor, vulnerable, infants
End malnutrition, especially in children, women, elders
Empower smallholder farmers; connect them to markets
Operationalize mechanism on technology, innovation, capacity-building
Build capacity to support national plans
Enhance global sustainable development partnerships
Encourage, promote public, private, civil society partnerships
Ensure access to early childhood education, care
Every day, countless children across the globe turn up for school on an empty stomach, which makes it hard to focus on lessons. For all of them, a daily school meal can mean not only better nutrition and health, but also increased access to and achievement in education. It is also a strong incentive to consistently send children to school.
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).
As governments begin to put plans into action to create or improve social protection programmes such as school meals programs, they identify new demands. The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil draws on Brazilian experience to share knowledge and policy innovations among developing countries. It helps governments understand where they stand in terms of school meals policy, implementation, and cost effectiveness. The Centre also provides technical assistance in the elaboration of programmes, policies and legislation, organization of public consultations and workshops, dialogue with stakeholders and trainings .
The success of the Brazilian experience in poverty reduction and food security promotion over the last years has caught global attention, especially Brazil’s comprehensive approach to school meals. Developing countries are interested in exchanging information on how Brazil established policies for tackling hunger with sustainable legal, institutional and financial mechanisms.
The national school meals programme is integrated into other Brazilian initiatives to curb hunger and malnutrition through a multi-sectoral approach. Besides serving nutritious meals to 43 million students, the programme boosts local agriculture, by dedicating at least 30 percent of its budget to purchasing food produced by smallholder farmers. The programme generates multiple benefits in education, nutrition, and local economies.
The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil provides technical assistance to governments in the following areas:
School meals: School meals programmes constitute a central element of the Centre’s methodology. They contribute to improved child nutrition, to increase in school enrollment and attendance rates, and to improve students’ performance. They also create opportunities for local farmers and communities.
Nutrition: Ending different forms of malnutrition is a crucial element of the Sustainable Development Goals. The demand of countries for information, knowledge, and capacity strengthening in this area has grown. The Centre offers technical assistance and opportunities for dialogue for countries to find innovative and sustainable solutions to overcome malnutrition.
Social development: Integrated and multi-sectoral social development initiatives are essential to overcome hunger and poverty, to ensure food and nutritional security, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Partner countries frequently reach out to the Centre to share knowledge, increase their technical capacity and receive technical assistance to implement or strengthen their national social protection systems with a focus on food security and nutrition.
Capacity strengthening: The Sustainable Development Goal 17 advocates for strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnerships for sustainable development, including through South-South Cooperation. Support to public policies, technical assistance and knowledge-sharing activities offer countries the means to advance in the fight against hunger. The Centre offers public policy dialogue opportunities for both government staff and decision makers, always ensuring a multi-sectoral approach to addressing hunger and malnutrition.
An external evaluation of the Centre’s first five years of work found that the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil endorses innovation in the following areas
• It tailors its actions to the demands of the partner countries and adapts to changes;
• It promotes the involvement of high-level government actors, which increases countries' commitment to school meals programs;
• It contributes to innovative school meals solutions and to increase the impact of existing national and international experiences. It emphasizes the multi-sectoral approach to school meals programs;
• It contributes significantly to the global recognition of school meals as a strategy to promote sustainable development;
• It is recognized for its ability to build strategic partnerships that contribute to the emergence of an enabling environment for the creation of national solutions to fight hunger and poverty.
Photo credit to WFP/Isadora Ferreira
Brazilian Cooperation Agency
Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation
Brazilian National Fund for Development of Education