Iceland extends its support to strengthen home-grown school feeding in Malawi

Mangochi: Photo: gunnisal/Icelandic Foreign Ministry

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a contribution of US$ 1.7 million from the Government of Iceland to scale up school feeding in the district of Mangochi in Malawi from 2022 to 2024.

The contribution will sustain and increase access to education through the provision of nutritious school meals for 13,000 children. Food commodities will be supplied from 1,500 local farmers who will also benefit from skills development in production, post-harvest handling and marketing.

“Providing healthy food to children at school means better nutrition, improved health as well as increased access to education,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP Country Director and Representative in Malawi. “We commend the Government of Iceland for its strong commitment to the home-grown school feeding model that will also strengthen the local economy and the entire food value chain.”

The home-grown school feeding model

Under the home-grown school feeding model, WFP partners with schools – through district councils – to purchase food locally. Participating schools sign contracts with farmers to procure local and diversified foods.  This new contribution will strengthen and consolidate the gains made with Iceland’s support since 2014 and will contribute to the development of a sustainable model for the national school feeding programme.

“Iceland is very pleased with the continued and strong partnership with WFP and the Government of Malawi,” said Inga Dóra Pétursdóttir, Head of Mission of the Embassy of Iceland in Malawi. “A daily nutritious school meal is a strong incentive to enroll children in school and motivation for good attendance. The home-grown school feeding further enhances the conducive learning environment in schools that are supported by Iceland in Mangochi.”

School feeding has multiple short- and long-term benefits. Global evidence shows that school feeding programmes have high return on investment: for every US$ 1 invested in school feeding, US$ 20 are returned to education through human capital and to the local economy through local procurement and employment.

A 2019 evaluation of the WFP Malawi school feeding programme in primary schools found that school meals reduced absenteeism by 5 percentage points. A similar evaluation in 2018 found that WFP school meals increased attendance from 77 percent to 92 percent.

Reaches 600,000

As part of COVID-19 containment measures, school meals had been provided as take-home rations from April 2020. The resumption of in-school feeding was approved by the Presidential Taskforce in September 2021 in line with Ministry of Education’s guidance. In Malawi, WFP’s school feeding intervention reaches about 600,000 children in seven districts.

About the Iceland-Malawi Cooperation

Iceland and Malawi started bilateral relations in 1989. The collaboration between Iceland and Malawi has focused on development cooperation in the district of Mangochi. Current programme support aims to strengthen the delivery of basic services in the district through providing the Mangochi District Council with support in the provision and use of basic services, maternal health and family planning, primary education, water and sanitation, and community development. The Embassy in Lilongwe was formally opened in 2004.