Asamenech Asmelash is a 7 years old schoolgirl in the second grade. The initiation of school feeding programmes in Ethiopia, such as PAA Africa, have ensured Asamenech and her classmates are given regular meals at school, helping her to focus on the lessons, rather than the lunch hall.
To show how the Purchase from Africa for Africans (PAA Africa) is helping students like Asamenech to have better nutritional diets that lead to better knowledge capacities, PAA Africa has developed a video: “Investing in school feeding in Ethiopia”.
According to Gatso Beshah, a teacher in one of the partner schools, “sometimes students come to school without eating their breakfast. That can distract their attention. But in this school they are provided meals. Therefore, they pay attention to the classes without being distracted, Their participation is good and they are never absent or drop out from school”.
Memihiru Melkamu, Director of the school, sees the benefits of the school feeding Programme every day, “we have increased student participation, for instance we had only 447 students before, but now we have 1,724. We had dropout rate of 1.4% but it is now gone to 0%. Regarding student results, we had a pass rate of 54% in 2013. But now the pass rate has reached 100% in 2015. The retention percentage has also increased dramatically”.
The PAA Africa programme – jointly implemented by local governments, FAO, WFP and the governments of Brazil and the United Kingdom – integrates agricultural and social protection initiatives, encouraging the consumption of locally produced food in school meals. This can help to strengthen the food and nutrition security of school children and build more resilient farming communities.
In Ethiopia, the Programme is being developed in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), where 2,815 smallholder farmers and 10,000 students are currently benefiting from the joint intervention of PAA Africa and the Bureaux of Agriculture and Education.
The Government of Ethiopia has recognised the success and future potential of PAA Africa. Currently it is supporting the scale up of the programme in the SNNPR and is evaluating the possibilities of its replication into a national Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
By boosting stronger institutional food markets, PAA Africa, along with long-term local policies, is improving resilience of rural communities and preventing future food crises.