Nepad to Feed 30m School Pupils
06 September 2005, This Day, Nigeria
by Onwuka Nzeshi
New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) in Nigeria yesterday unveiled plans to provide a meal per day for an estimated 30 million pupils in primary schools across the federation under its Home Grown School Feeding and Health Care (HGSFHC) programme.
However, NEPAD headquarters in South Africa has in response to the food insecurity in many African countries commissioned World Food Programme and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to prepare the programme for African children to reduce hunger among them, and improve their nutritional intake. This will also improve their intellectual capacity. The pilot scheme will kick off simultaneously in selected African countries which have endorsed African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) document of NEPAD.
But, Presidential Senior Special Assistant on NEPAD, Mrs. Chinyere Asika, while addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said the pilot scheme will kick off soon in selected schools across 12 states drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country.
The novel idea, she explained, was designed by NEPAD to ameliorate the plight of African children, many of whom suffer hunger and diseases due to the poverty of their parents and in some cases, natural disasters such as drought and famine.
She observed that though Nigeria has not had the unfortunate experience of famine, a good number of Nigerian pupils were still faced with some level of hunger and malnutrition on account of the poor standard of living of their parents.
A multi-stakeholder committee has been set up to implement the programme in Nigeria. The committee includes government at the various levels, school authorities, community leaders as well as the pupils and their parents in a bid to ensure that all the relevant stakeholders partner towards the success of the programme.
"The Federal Government has made a budget for it and included it in Universal Basic Education Bill. State governments that own most of the schools will bring some of the funding, local governments that own some of the schools will also bring some of the funds.
"So it is a partnership and we have been working with a multi-stakeholder committee," she said.
"We have meetings with the state and local government officials; we have meetings with community leaders so that an agreeable decision could be reached on how best to implement the programme at the various locations across the country because it is not standardised. What the children may eat in Nasarawa may be different from what those in Osun will eat," Asika added.
The NEPAD Nigeria Boss appealed to mass media organisations in the country to focus on NEPAD programmes with more commitment as the development
envisioned by African leaders through the New Partnership For Africa's Development would only come to reality when all hands were on deck. According to her NEPAD has become the African voice for development and the media had an immense role to play in amplifying that common voice.
She decried the poor image of the continent in Western media saying pictures of war, famine and drought projected in the foreign media was counter productive as it painted Africa as a land of crisis, conflict, war and misery. This ugly picture, Asika said could be erased and in its place mounted the true picture of a continent full of opportunities desirous of partnering with the rest of the world for mutual benefits.