The African Union Summit decided in January 2016 to adopt home-grown school feeding programmes as a continental strategy to increase student retention and performance and to strengthen income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities. The decision was made after a study visit to Brazil, organized by the WFP Centre. The African Union is conducting a study on the relevance and impact of school feeding in Africa, with support from the Centre for Excellence against Hunger. It also instituted the African School Feeding Day on 1 March.

African Day of School Feeding

On 1 March, the African continent celebrated for the first time the African Day of School Feeding. The date marked African countries’ commitment to promoting school feeding programmes linked to local food production as a strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The African Day of School Feeding was instituted by the African Union Summit to recognize school feeding as crucial to social development with multiple benefits for students, farmers and communities.

Niger hosted a high-level event to mark the date, in partnership with the African Union and the WFP country office. Egypt, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Gambia, Mali and Senegal marked the date with events and debates on school feeding. WFP also held an event at its headquarters in Rome, which highlighted the results of various initiatives in the area. Representatives from NEPAD, UNICEF, REACH, FAO, IFPRI and the governments of Niger, Kenya, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Egypt and Brazil participated in the event, moderated by the deputy director of the Centre of Excellence, Peter Rodrigues.

Study on impacts of school feeding in Africa

The Centre of Excellence and the African Union have joined forces to conduct an analysis of the benefits of sustainable school feeding programmes in African countries as a means to improve access to education, increase food and nutritional security, and create market opportunities for smallholder farmers to overcome hunger and poverty.

The study, conducted by the Cape Town-based Economic Policy Research Institute (EPRI), outlines an overview of school feeding in the African continent and examines 20 selected countries for further analysis that includes field research in 12 countries. The research team visited Brazil to learn about the Brazilian experiences in the area and participated in the Global Child Nutrition Forum in Armenia, to share the research methodology with the participants and to take advantage of the presence of African leaders to do interviews.

The study will be divided into three parts:

  1. Overview of school feeding in Africa: sectoral evidence base and the drivers of impact
  2. Conceptual framework: linking school feeding to continental and international development agendas, including the AU Agenda 2063, the SDGs and the AU’s continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025
  3. Recommendations: what is needed to ensure that school feeding programmes are successful, gain scale and can contribute to the development of African countries, based on concrete and urgent guidelines that must take into account the peculiarities of each country.

The final results will be presented to the Member States of the African Union during the Heads of State Summit in July 2017.

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As a result of the partnership with the Centre of Excellence and the WFP, the African Union actively participated in the Centre’s events throughout the year. In addition to the celebration of the African School Feeding Day, the African Union presented its vision for school feeding in:

  • Parallel event to commemorate the five years of the Centre of Excellence in Rome, Italy, during the meeting of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme
  • WFP Regional Seminar on Home-Grown School Feeding – How to integrate systems
  • Global Child Nutrition Forum in Yerevan, Armenia, with the participation of 45 countries
  • International Forum on Social Protection Initiatives to Achieve Zero Hunger in Cape Town, South Africa.