Participation of WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger at the 21st Global Child Nutrition Forum resulted in strengthened partnerships, exchange of experiences and knowledge of school feeding in Cambodia
In 2019, there were several important activities for the WFP (World Food Programme) team in Brazil and a relevant moment was the participation of the WFP Brazil Centre of Excellence against hunger delegation at the 21st edition of the Global Child Nutrition Forum (GCNF). The event, which was held in Asia for the first time, brought together more than 350 participants from over 70 countries at a five-day event in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
In the event’s opening speech, WFP Brazil Centre of Excellence Director Daniel Balaban reinforced the transformative power that school feeding programmes exert on families and communities, also impacting the creation of opportunities and empowering other social groups, such as smallholder farmers.
Daniel Balaban also recalled that 2019 marked the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming. “It is imperative that we turn our attention to school farming linked to local agriculture as an effective tool to increase support for family farmers as well as to ensure food and nutrition security,” said Daniel Balaban in his opening address. “We know that it doesn’t happen overnight. This is something that takes time and dedication and this forum is part of these efforts. That is why it is so important that we come together every year to enrich and leverage our knowledge and practices”, he added.
Partnerships and Virtual Exchanges
Despite having operations in various regions of the world, the WFP Brazil Centre of Excellence ends up being physically distant from other key partners. For this reason, events such as GCNF are essential to renew alliances and strengthen relationships. They also represent a great opportunity to continue the work that is being done with countries.
“Throughout the year, we attend remote meetings, do country missions, but it is at events like this one that we meet the technical team we work with and also strengthen political ties,” explained Sharon Freitas, Head of Programme at the WFP Brazil Centre of Excellence. The event also represents the joint effort of the local WFP offices that attend the event and support country delegations.
The latest edition of GCNF was also special because it was there that the Centre of Excellence launched its new service portfolio, which includes Virtual Exchanges. Considering that countries have limited resources, WFP Brazil has developed a methodology that allows for the continuity of services from a distance. The Virtual Exchanges portfolio includes access to publications, audio and video conferences, online courses, remote mission participation, remote technical assistance, and more.
Workshop: transition to national ownership of school feeding programs
During the event, Bruno Magalhães and Vinicius Limongi, from the Centre of Excellence Programme team, co-led a workshop called “Transition and national ownership of school feeding programmes: approaches and experiences from designers in the field”. The objective was to present how school feeding programmes transition from a WFP-led operation to an operation led by the local government. The workshop presented the theme at a global level, focusing on building the human and technical skills needed for this process. Topics covered included programme design, government engagement, dialogue building, among others.
During the session, representatives of the WFP Brazil Centre of Excellence and other local offices presented their experiences with transition. In addition to that, country representatives were also able to share their learning. Guatemala, for example, has gone through all the stages of transition and today the local government controls the school feeding programme. With these presentations, the workshop promoted the opportunity for dialogue and exchange of experiences between countries, which was the main goal of the session.
Plenary: challenges of implementing school feeding programmes
Transition was also featured in one of the plenary sessions. On the panel mediated by Mariana Rocha, from the Centre for Excellence Programme team, representatives from Sao Tome and Principe, a country that has an advanced legislation on the subject, shared lessons learned about the transition process of the school feeding programme operation from the local WFP office to the government. Other countries also presented their experiences, such as Mozambique, Jordan, Niger and New Zealand.
According to Mariana Rocha, the panel served to demonstrate that school feeding programmes can serve different purposes, from nutrition to overweight or chronic diseases, and create healthy eating habits, depending on the characteristics of each country. New Zealand, for example, presented the awareness campaign for the government to adopt the school feeding programme to improve nutrition rates, considering that the country has a high overweight rate.
The agenda of the Forum also included a field visit, in which country delegations got to know the local reality. WFP Brazil Director Daniel Balaban shared his experience in this video:
To read the event communiqué with recommendations for governments, the private sector and all those involved in child nutrition, please click here.