Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Latest update on schools feeding programme

The schools feeding programme in Gokwe and Mudzi continues to go well, providing approximately 90,000 primary school children in 147 schools with one meal of nutrient rich porridge (including a ration of oil per child) daily. During visits to the schools, headmasters continue to comment on the increased energy and concentration evident in the children since the feeding programme began in February this year.
In order to assess and analyse the effects of the feeding programme, Medair is currently undertaking a follow-up survey to collect data from all the schools. Forty children from each school will be weighed and measured and the data analysed to see if they have gained weight and calculate the weight for height ratio. The data analysis will also include questions to assess the effectiveness and accountability of the programme, for example asking if the children are being made to pay for their porridge, which should not be the case.

As an extra to the feeding, Medair will also distribute approximately 180 fuel efficient stoves to the primary schools in one district to assess their impact on fuel saving, cooking time and other cooking related aspects. In preparation for this, we are currently investigating current cooking practices in the schools so as to be able to compare 'before' and 'after' results after the stoves have started to be used.

Background

Gokwe and Mudzi are both areas of significant food insecurity and the programme aims to improve the nutritional status of the children, as well as to maintain or improve the level of school attendance. The food insecurity had previously led to a significant drop-out rate from schools as parents tried to save money from school fees to buy food and also as children left to find money or food. In some cases, girls were leaving school to become prostitutes to support their families. In addition, the programme is designed to mitigate the long term impact of declining educational levels amongst the population.