For the third consecutive year, Dubai Cares is organizing a two-day workshop, bringing together international partners under one umbrella in Dubai to exchange key learnings and best practices. This year, the focus is on the area of Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programs in developing countries across the world. The workshop highlights the modality of the Dubai Cares’ funded programs based on experience in countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana and Palestine.
Speaking at the workshop, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “Cross learning is an integral part of Dubai Cares’ work. By convening international partners and major philanthropic stakeholders, we not only connect individuals who work in similar areas under different dynamics, but also give organizations and government officials a platform to present their success stories and progress in the area of school feeding, as well as school health and nutrition at large.”
Home Grown School Feeding programs are based on a contemporary, cost-effective, nationally-owned and sustainable School Health and Nutrition model. As part of integrated School Health and Nutrition programs, which also include water, sanitation and hygiene in schools as well as deworming activities, Home Grown School Feeding aims to enhance primary school enrolment rates, reduce absenteeism and improve the cognitive learning abilities of children. Dubai Cares’ commitment to Home Grown School Feeding programs goes beyond its mandate to increase children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries, it also programmatically aligns with and supports the UN Secretary-General’s 5-year ‘Global Education First Initiative’.
Attendees at the workshop comprise representatives from international and local NGOs, UN agencies, government leaders, academic institutions as well as several industry experts from around the globe. Representatives from each country had the opportunity to highlight key learnings from the program through individual presentations as well as through an interactive “market place” format, where participants interacted with each other on specified topics.
Talking on the importance of school feeding, Al Gurg concluded: “To me, the power of integrated School Health and Nutrition programs that include school feeding, is the multi-faceted impact achieved by this holistic intervention. Through our experience we have learnt that, if implemented efficiently, school feeding can develop into a successful, cost-effective, nationally-owned and sustained model. The workshops that we have been convening are imperative to spur innovation that leads to better programmatic impact. Therefore, I hope this workshop will provide participants with insight into its application and how it can be adapted to different contexts.”
In June 2013, Dubai Cares announced the launch of its 3-year integrated Home Grown School Feeding pilot program in Ethiopia, which is being implemented in 30 schools to address the health and nutrition needs of approximately 30,700 primary school age children in the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), while also providing the farmers an ongoing market for their goods.
Additionally, in 2012, Dubai Cares launched a 4-year Home Grown School Feeding program in Ghana, which is benefiting over 320,000 primary school-aged children and the livelihoods of over 80,000 rural households. In Bangladesh, Dubai Cares also supported an innovative community school kitchen approach covering 45 schools for children aged 5 to 11 years from vulnerable families.
The workshop is being complemented with valuable sessions on school feeding programs transitions, nutrition, supply chain costing and operational effectiveness, procurement and agricultural linkages, national School Feeding Programs, and monitoring, evaluation and learning. In previous years, Dubai Cares hosted workshops on WASH in Schools and Girls Education.