Norwegian research foundation Fafo reviews school feeding in emergencies

Fafo
Children eating a home-grown meal at Cumva primary school in Burundi, a school supported by WFPs school feeding programme. Photo: WFP/Hugh Rutherford

Norwegian research foundation Fafo has worked with the World Food Programme (WFP) since 2016 to develop knowledge about school feedings in emergency settings. Fafo recently released a review about the role WFP’s school feeding programmes may play in humanitarian crises, and the special challenges faced with school feeding in such contexts (Hatløy and Sommerfelt, 2017). The report plays on existing policies and literature, as well as interviews with stakeholders.

 

Fafo’s researchers argue that school feeding in crises is a way to ensure protection and food access for children, in support of education (but not with education as an exclusive goal). School feeding can have positive effects on education and learning, improve children’s nutrition, and strengthen local economies and local agriculture. However, Fafo’s researchers argue that the primary role of school feeding should be to benefit the children.  

 

They name the consequences of such a child-centred approach in ten points, which may be summarised as follows:

 

Food security and nutrition should be the main goal of school feedings.

 

  1. Food should be given in-kind, and during school hours, to make sure it benefits the children.

  2. The protection-aspect of school feedings should be strengthened, as food in schools represents an alternative to ex. recruitment to military groups, early marriage and child labour.

  3. School feeding is more essential to strengthen school participation in crises than otherwise, because people are more at pressure for food in crisis situations.

  4. Children who do not attend school should be included in the programme to reach the most vulnerable.

  5. Coordinate school feedings between education, food security, nutrition and protection sectors to ease transition to normalcy.

  6. Monitoring at country level should follow impact on food security, not only school attendance.

  7. Encourage research on how school feedings impact children’s food access and school attendance, especially in non-conflict crises.

  8. Use school feedings for prevention and mitigation of slow-onset crises, as well as emergency response.

  9. Procure food locally when possible, enhance nutrition through strengthened local food culture, markets, and food production.

 

The full Fafo report by Hatløy and Sommerfelt (2017) is available here.