Malawi urged to devise ‘sustainable mechanism’ to feed school children

Malawi government has been advised to devise “sustainable mechanism” to feed leaner in the School Meals Programmes and have donors coming in to complement the efforts.

Some of the pupils enjoying the porridge

The advice is contained in an editorial comment of the leading daily, The Nation; over the $3.6 million (about K2.6 billion) support Government of Norway has given Malawi through World Food Programme (WFP) for the School Meals Programme.

In its extended coverage to the donation, the paper pointed out that WFP, Norway and several other partners are doing a “commendable job” in supporting the initiative to ensure that learners remain in school and ultimately attain education to position themselves for a better future.

The new support is projected to feed children in 600 primary schools in 13 of the country’s 28 districts “for a considerable length of time,” according to Minister of Education, Science and Technology Bright Msaka.

However, the paper expressed worried with “the level of desperation” demonstrated by Msaka during the unveiling of the new funding initiative at Mdzobwe Primary School in Lilongwe on Monday.

As quoted by Nyasa Times, the Minister said: “We are running out of time and without this support, we would have had difficulties continuing to feed our children.”

In its editorial comment, the leading daily said asked authorities that, moving forward, they should take up the responsibility of feeding school children and have partners coming in to complement the efforts.

Reads the comment: “The growing dependency on donors even for initiatives that can be locally financed with prudent planning is counterproductive.”

It argued that there are other critical areas where the donor resources could be uses such as infrastructure development in a country where a majority of learners lack secure classrooms, learning and teaching materials.

“With prudence in public finance management, some of these initiatives can be locally financed,” pointed out the paper.

It concluded by stating that it is high time Malawi devised a clear “exit strategy” to ensure sustainability of the feeding programme in the event of donor fatigue.

The Government of Norway is one of the largest donors to WFP in Malawi having contributed USD13.4 million since 2014 as part of the United Nations Joint Program on Girls’ Education, supporting WFP’s Home Grown School Meals component and building the capacity of smallholder farmers to improve their access to viable markets.

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