As part of its COVID-19 pandemic response plan, Senegal’s Ministry of National Education launched a school feeding program in March 2021 with CFAF 552 million (close to US$1 million) in GPE funding and operational support from the World Food Program (WFP).
This emergency response, which is in line with the Presidential School Feeding Program, is aimed at mitigating the effects of the health crisis on student education, ensuring the continuity of education services, and encouraging vulnerable students to attend school and achieve academic success.
School meals to encourage students to attend school
The role of school meals in encouraging school attendance and even improving the quality of student learning is widely recognized.
The program sets up meal services in public schools in the most disadvantaged rural and periurban areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim is to mitigate the health and socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on students and their families and encourage the most vulnerable students to attend school and achieve academic success, as schools reopened during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Close to 107,000 students in 637 primary schools across 23 Education and Training Inspectorates in the Diourbel, Kaolack, Kolda, Saint-Louis, Sédhiou, Thiès and Ziguinchor regions are benefiting from the program.
A total of 8.5 million meals will be provided to students during the 10-month project period.
The initiative targets elementary schools, pre-primary schools, and public Koranic schools (daaras) in the rural areas of the regions/departments facing food insecurity and malnutrition and where the school indicators (gross enrollment rates and primary completion rates) are lowest.
The program’s beneficiary regions were selected based on three vulnerability indicators: the number of COVID-19 cases reported, the school dropout rate, and the level of food insecurity and acute malnutrition observed among students.
Selection of schools participating in the program
Schools are selected based on a number of minimum criteria jointly identified with the Ministry of Education, such as the existence of an operational management committee, acceptable hygiene standards (a water source, bathrooms, etc.), and the grouping of nearby villages into a larger unit.
The WFP is also seeking to build the synergies needed, so as to ensure complementarity in the work done with the partners.