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African Union Launches Campaign on First Year of the African Day of School Feeding : Statement of the Chairperson of the AU Commission

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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Your Excellency the Prime Minister of Niger;

Your Excellencies the Ministers;

The Representatives of Ministries;

Technical and Financial Partners;

Civil Society Representatives;

Distinguished Delegates;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Boys and girls,

I have the honour and great pleasure to express my gratitude to the African UnionMember Statesfor endorsing the recommendation on the promotion of School Feedingprogrammes as a continental strategy for drivingsustainable development. While thisdecision by Heads of States and Government will play a critical role in improvingeducation outcomes, eradicating hunger and poverty, italso calls on us to mark every1st of March of each year, as the African Day of School Feeding.

Today we are gathered in Niger for the launch of the first event, courtesy of thehospitality of the Government of Niger, under the theme “Home Grown SchoolFeeding- a conduit for Africa's Sustainable Development”. I extend my deepgratitude to the Government of Niger for taking on this enormous responsibility, amidstnumerous elections engagements. Let me add, that this is not in vain, we gather inNiger today, as a demonstration of our keen interest in our children, and the future ofour Continent.

It is true that School Feeding programmes are not new to Africa, in fact, some among usare who we are today because of School meals. Countries that have been implementingthem have experimented their impact on the access and retention of children, mainly ofgirls in school. For the governments of these countries, the key issue has always beento take all the necessary measures so that theexpenses allocated to these programmesare more efficient, yet, without overstretching the resources allocated to education.

As currently envisaged, School Feeding is a programme with various far reachingbenefits going beyond education; to the areas of agriculture, nutrition, health and socialdevelopment. Its connectionto local agriculture production,acts as a social safety net forvulnerable communities and a stimulus for national economic development.

We can say that the progress made, so far,led us towardsthese important conquests,for it is a conquest for Africa and our children; a conquest for local producers, aconquest for our agriculture. For our children it offers huge benefits to their education,health and nutrition, and a predictable market for small holders farmers.

The linkwith local production is a new approach which is actually a safety net that maybe used in accessing food and stimulating local markets. It helps households to invest inproductive activities and participate in human capital development, particularly in theform of financial assistance.Indeed, the ambitious objectives of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA16-25) could not be achieved without a broad and integrated strategy gathering all thestakeholders and taking into account the needs of vulnerable communities. Thus, asSchool Feeding has been included in CESA 16-25, this programme also becomes astrong launching pad to stimulate local development and prevent malnutrition.

Allow me to recall that, in response to the request by the African Union Commission, theRepublic of Niger, through her Minister of Primary Education and Literacy, and with thesupport of partners such asWFP and its Centre of Excellence in Brazil, an AU missiontravelled to Brazil to draw inspiration from its model. Niger and other African countriesalso carry critical home grown lessons too that we can draw on. These variousexperiences are unanimous on the relevance of this programme to improve theretention of children in school, their nutritional status, and also the revenues ofcommunities when related to local production; it is clear that the keyprioritiesof the post-2015 Agenda and specifically those encompassed in the Agenda 2063 and CESA 16-25are taken into account and well addressed through this programme.

Many African countries are developing school feeding programmes with greatinnovations, notably Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Lesotho andothers.We will hear today about some of these practices, however I call upon thedocumentation of these lessons learned, so that these can be shared with otherswithout re-inventing the wheel, and so that we can hasten our advancement towards apromising continental strategy for the development of our countries.

This is the essence of the study prescribed by the Assembly of Heads of State andGovernment.

Distinguished Delegates,

I hope that the recommendation of the Assembly for the promotion of school feedingprogrammes within the framework of CESA 16-25 will not remain a mererecommendation to be kept in the drawers of Ministries, but will mark the beginning of aprocess which offers various opportunities to strengthen the convergence of resources,skills and means. Its implementation shall significantly contribute to the achievement ofAfrica's expectations expressed in the African Agenda by 2063. It will build themomentum to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

Long live the 1st March, African Day of School Feeding.

Thank you