Killing three birds with one stone? Forming tomorrow’s Human Capital through Home-Grown School Feeding: A Review

Mensah, Clement (2016). 'Killing three birds with one stone? Forming tomorrow’s Human Capital through Home-Grown School Feeding: A Review' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract School Feeding Programmes (SFPs), a form of food transfer, have featured prominently in the hunger eradication campaign over the last two decades. In 2011, some 25.9 million children were served school meals in 60 countries by WFP alone, with about 10.9 million from Africa. These programmes, whether in the form of in-school feeding or take-home rations bring significant benefits to children’s overall development. Aside from guaranteeing children’s right to food as enshrined in the International Human Rights Declaration, SFPs are part of a broader policy effort for assuring food and nutritional security, improving health as well as making an important contribution to educational outcomes. Consequently, SFPs have gained traction over the last two decades in both developed and developing countries particularly in countries where child poverty, hunger and malnutrition are rife.  In particular, the transition to Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmes in low and middle income countries is making inroads in expanding markets for smallholder farmers. Thus, by adopting a home-grown approach to school feeding, that is, buying food from local farmers, a third wave of benefits is realized: increased access to reliable markets for smallholder farmers. For smallholder farmers whose children are SFP beneficiaries, their participation in such HGSF schemes creates a win-win situation for them as incomes realized from increased access to markets can be used to smoothing household consumption as well as help insure against risks. Consequently, HGSF programmes can be used as a catalyst if not silver bullet for forming tomorrow’s human capital through its three-fold impact pathways: improving educational outcomes, enhancing health and nutrition outcomes and boosting market opportunities for smallholder farmers. These multiple benefits that HGSF offers remain crucial ingredients for reaching optimum human development. For instance, in Africa, only 17 countries attained medium to very high human development according to the 2014 Human Development Report. In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), improvement in human development has been moderate, increasing from 0.382 in 1980 to 0.502 in 2013 – translating into an improvement of about 31%.  Thus, using food, in this case, Home-Grown School Feeding programmes, to drive the child development agenda becomes imperative. As such, this study examines how conventional school feeding schemes together with emerging ones (HGSF) are shaping tomorrow’s human capital in SSA. Drawing on a systematic review of literature, the study will also unpack factors that are essential for maximizing the human development impact of HGSF programmes within the sub-region. On the policy front, HGSF remains an important theme, not only for governments of developing countries but also recognized as an important strategy under New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme. Thus, it is envisaged that this study will contribute to shaping the debates, policies and strategies that are being implemented by these institutions and how the HGSF model can better be designed to respond adequately to human capital development in sub-Saharan Africa.

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