Kwara is joining the national home grown school feeding programme to tackle school age malnutrition, boost school enrolment, and strengthen local economy through wealth redistribution, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said on Thursday, 20 February, 2020.
AbdulRazaq said the statistics of stunted and wasted children in the state — until May 2019 the highest in the north central region — is scary and must be reversed to give every child a head start in life.
“I am very passionate about school feeding for our children. This is because the socioeconomic cost of not urgently acting against malnutrition and dwindling school enrolment far outweighs whatever financial commitments we will be making to the programme,” AbdulRazaq said this while declaring open a two-day Stakeholders Workshop on National Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Ilorin, the state capital.
“As at May last year, 33% of our children were stunted while another 7 percent were adjudged as wasted. This is scary. It is something that must be addressed immediately.”
The workshop heralds many great things to expect from the administration, particularly in the areas of human capital development and safety nets for the weak and the poor, he said.
“This meeting has been called to get all the stakeholders on the same page ahead of implementation of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Kwara State. I must also thank the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Sadiya Umar Farouq for her commitment towards the inclusion of the state in the NHGSFP.”
AbdulRazaq also encouraged mothers to prioritise exclusive breastfeeding, assuring Kwarans that the school feeding would boost local economy through patronage of local farmers and entrepreneur.
“The success of this initiative would depend largely on the implementation committee. This is why I charge you all to ensure that you do everything to make it a success,” he added.
NHGSFP National Programme Manager Abimbola Adesanmi recalled that the school feeding programme was initially inaugurated in Kwara in 2017 without success owing to lack of funding for it.
“I must commend the Governor’s commitment to this. The state is now starting with a big bang by having a law backing the Social Investment Programme and also committing to scaling up the programme from primary four to primary six,” she said.
“Our aim is to provide one hot nutritious meal to pupils across the country and our target is 12 million children for pupils from primary one to three in all public primary schools.”
She said 8.6m pupils are already benefiting from the feeding programme across 35 states, a figure she said would peak when Kwara begins later in the first quarter.
State Focal Person for the School Feeding Programme, Bashirah AbdulRazaq, said the programme — which began with the Federal Government — sought to guarantee equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable populations, including children, women and youths.
“The Home Grown School Feeding Programme is one way the government is increasing the school enrolment by providing meals to school children. The programme works with local farmers and empowers women as cooks, building the community and sustaining economic growth from farm to table,” Mrs AbdulRazaq said.
“As we deliberate on the implementation of this programme in the state, I encourage all key players to be selfless, dedicated and committed to the successful implementation of it in the state.”
The school feeding programme was originally conceived by the Federal Government for children in primary one to three. Kwara is extending the programme to capture all primary school children in the state — the fourth state to do such comprehensive school feeding after Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, and Osun.
By the time the Kwara school feeding begins later in this third quarter, the state would become the 36th state to key into the programme — including the Federal Capital Territory.