The experience of the school feeding program in Addis Ababa. How did he start and what did he achieve? | To mix together

A beautiful sunset

Years ago, the ‘school feeding programme’ began in Addis Ababa, targeting students from primary to eighth grade in public schools, most of whom were from low-income families, before the he former mayor of the Ethiopian capital, Tekele Oma, has officially launched the meal program as part of the city’s efforts to prevent students from dropping out of public schools for lack of food and educational tools.

The beginning of the story is a project idea

Perhaps the idea in its infancy was born of a banal dialogue between a pupil and his teacher in one of the schools of the capital, where the latter walked through the classrooms at lunchtime, so that a student was sitting alone in the class while his classmates went out for lunch and the teacher asked the student why she hadn’t gone out for lunch? His answer was that he hadn’t taken the meal. The professor replied with astonishment: How not to take a meal when you have a “lunch box” in your hands? The surprise was that he was carrying the empty box so others wouldn’t feel like his family couldn’t provide him with a meal.

A situation in which the teacher could not hold back her tears despite her efforts to hide them, then she began the journey of finding solutions with the teachers of the school, and the school administration then adopted the idea of ​​providing a meal to the pupils. whose families could not provide them with meals, and after two years it became an integrated project by the name of “Addis Ababa City School Feeding Programme”.

So told Al-Jazeera Net, Professor Molqita Burhan, a teacher at the Kennedy Preparatory School in the capital, Addis Ababa, and explained how to start the school feeding program targeting around 300,000 students, then it became a project benefiting more than 700,000 students. in public schools in the capital.

Professor Burhan continued his presentation on the experience and the reasons behind the birth of the initiative, saying that the limited and unstable incomes and the high cost of living for many families in Addis Ababa have prompted thousands families to send their children without adequate food, which has had negative consequences on their health and education, noting that some families have been forced to drop their children from school because they could not provide them with a meals during the school day.

School feeding program at the Kennedy Preparatory School in the capital, Addis Ababa (Al-Jazeera)

The official announcement

In 2019, the city administration of Addis Ababa issued a decision establishing an official body to manage the school feeding program to provide free meals and school materials to 300,000 public college students in the capital. birr (about $3.16 million) for the program in the 2019 academic year.

An official body has been formed to manage the work in an efficient and sustainable manner, and charged with managing the program which ensures that students do not drop out of school due to lack of food and educational resources, as well as its responsibility to develop a system by which management and society can contribute to the success of the program and allow students to continue their education without encountering difficulties. .

The school meals program represented an indirect change on the income of poor families and a strong incentive to continue spending on education, encouraging children to come to school and reducing dropouts. The school meals have also contributed positively to the nutritional status and health of the pupils, and therefore to their perception, their level of education, their school performance and their cognitive development With the certificate of the organization supervising the project.

The authority said in a report that the initiative has created job opportunities for thousands of mothers who were employed to cook meals. Professor Noureddine Abrar, said that the idea of ​​the project started 3 years ago on the initiative of teachers, stakeholders and some civil society organizations with the aim of supporting needy students who have difficulties to complete their studies due to lack of food.

Abrar, who spoke to Al-Jazeera Net about the experience of the project, said the government felt the impact of the conditions on students’ studies and academic level, so it adopted the school feeding program in 2019 and said the program had expanded and is working through 13 branches in the capital, Addis Ababa, in addition to developing and building the capacity of individuals in the areas of health and other issues related to nutrition.

The local official pointed out that the work of the authority is not limited to providing meals to students in need, but also providing school uniforms and textbooks, and said the number of students benefiting from the project was increased to 700,000 students after recipients were within the 600,000 student limit.

He added that the experience was transferred from Addis Ababa to some towns in the Oromia region adjacent to the capital, explaining that the number of schools benefiting from the program reached 556 schools in Addis Ababa and more than 300 schools in the Oromia region, and about 13,000 women work to provide daily meals.

Molqita Burhan: Limited income and high cost of living for many families in Addis Ababa has prompted thousands to send their children without enough food (Al-Jazeera)

Project financing

The local official spoke about the financing of the project, which is growing significantly, and said that the Addis Ababa administration has helped provide full support for the project worth a total of 4.2 billion Ethiopian birr ( approximately $78 million), as well as support and praise from local and international organizations and institutions.

In March 2020, the World Bank pledged $25 million in support for the school feeding program launched by the administration of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in the 2020 school year, as part of the World Bank Urban Productive Safety Net Program.

Addis Ababa wins the Milano Award

The Addis Ababa School Feeding Program has won – along with 5 other cities around the world – the Milano Compact Award 2022 for the Global School Feeding Program, in the category of Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition, across 3 criteria: innovation, impact and inclusiveness.

On October 18, 2022, Addis Ababa received an award at the “8th Milan Charter World Forum for Urban Food Policies” in Rio de Janeiro, among 133 cities around the world, as the first African city to win this award. .

The award was received by the Mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanesh Abebe, who participated in the global forum organized in Brazil under the theme “Food to Feed Climate Justice: Urban Food Solutions for a Fairr World”.

The award is a joint initiative promoted by the City of Milan and the Cariblo Foundation, aimed at innovating in the food policies of urban areas of the 250 signatory cities of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, the first international protocol calling on cities to develop food systems that provide healthy and accessible food for all, protect biodiversity and reduce food poisoning.

Abrar attributed the fact that the city administration of Addis Ababa won the Milan Charter Prize for the year 2022 to the efforts of the administration of the capital and its involvement with various segments of society. He said that the project is a new and unique experience in the country, and the authorities in charge of it aspire to develop it and benefit from global experiences.

The positive effect of diet

Quds Ayalu, a mother of two school-aged children, felt the school feeding program was a lifeline for her children to continue their education after being unable to provide them with a meal during the study period, and she told Al-Jazeera Net that she works as a cleaner in a house for an amount that is not enough to provide more than one meal a day, so she did not. She is able to provide enough food for her two children to study and pay school fees.

“I was forced to leave school for my children due to the lack of meals and school supplies, but thank God, before two months had passed, the school feeding program arrived, which helped them provided food and school supplies,” said Ayalo, 25. . “Now I am happy that my children are back in school. They are getting a free school meal, school uniforms and teaching materials,” she added.


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