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ECOWAS Member States Commit to Enhancing School Feeding Programs

Prof Fatou Sow Sarr
Prof Fatou Sow Sarr

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with the School Feeding Coalition and International Financial Institutions (IFIs), successfully concluded a three-day regional technical conference in Dakar, Senegal, from May 21 to 23, 2024.

The conference, themed “Legislating for Change, Financing the Future,” brought together experts from ECOWAS Member States’ Ministries of Education, Agriculture, and Economy and Finance, alongside representatives from Central African countries, international technical partners, and major financial institutions such as the World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, African Development Bank, and Agence Française de Développement.

Over the course of three days, participants deliberated on the challenges and opportunities associated with sustainably financing school feeding programs, establishing comprehensive national regulatory frameworks for school feeding, and leveraging school canteen programs to bolster local agriculture and enhance the nutritional well-being of schoolchildren. The conference served as a platform for countries to exchange knowledge and capitalize on best practices in designing and implementing sustainable school feeding programs anchored on local production.

Mme Massandjé Toure Lit
Mme Massandjé Toure Lit

Representing the ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Massandje TOURE-LITSE and Prof Fatou SOW SARR, Commissioners for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, and Human Development and Social Affairs respectively, emphasized the critical role of political will in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of school feeding strategies. They underscored the necessity for governments to prioritize school feeding, institutionalize it within national frameworks, allocate substantial resources, and establish mechanisms for accountability. The Commissioners extended gratitude to technical and financial partners for their collaborative efforts in realizing the shared goal of providing nutritious meals to every schoolchild in West Africa, sourced from local agricultural products.

During the conference, Mrs. Massandje TOURE-LITSE reaffirmed the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to supporting Member States in establishing and sustaining school feeding programs. She announced the mobilization of 4.5 million euros to finance the Support Project for Innovative School Feeding Models in ECOWAS Member States. This initiative builds upon the Commission’s previous contribution of 1 million US dollars to the school canteen program in the Republic of Cabo Verde in 2023, which facilitated meals for 90,000 pupils during the 2023-2024 academic year.

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