A Dubai Cares’ delegation led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares has recently organized a press conference in Ethiopia to announce the launch of its 3-year integrated Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) pilot program, 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). According to the World Food Program, 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
The AED 14.7 million (US$ 4 million) Dubai Cares funded program in Ethiopia is based on a contemporary, cost-effective, nationally-owned and sustainable school health and nutrition model and aims to enhance primary school enrolment rates, reduce absenteeism and improve the cognitive learning abilities of the children.
Dubai Cares commitment to this program goes beyond its mandate to increase children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries; the program aligns with and supports the UN Secretary-General’s 5 year ‘Global Education First Initiative’, which has prioritized Ethiopia as a key target country.
The Dubai Cares integrated HGSF Program is being implemented by the World Food Program (WFP), Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and SNV-Netherlands, and includes the provision of in-school meals prepared from locally sourced commodities, encouraging enrolment of children that live in poverty and are constantly battling food insecurity, while also stimulating local economic growth and development. The program provides a valuable opportunity for farmers and producers to generate a structured and predictable demand for their products. In addition to the HGSF component, the program is also inclusive of deworming treatment and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in schools.
Speaking on the launch of the program, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Cares said: “Guided by the belief of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to implement sustainable and impactful quality education programs, and as a member of the Technical Advisory Group for the ‘Global Education First Initiative’ and in alignment with our 5 years commitment to advocate for quality education to become a primary focus on the agendas of local and national governments as well as aid organizations worldwide, Dubai Cares has launched this three-year program to contribute to the evidence base and facilitate informed decision-making and scale-up not only in Ethiopia but also in other countries across the world.”
“Having successfully implemented similar HGSF programs in other parts of the world, we look forward to using our experience and insights to develop a successful program while empowering schools and the local community to play an active part in ensuring its success. We believe, through this program, we can significantly impact the country’s educational environment while also providing an ancillary benefit by contributing to the local economy. From a global perspective, such a program has a lot of significance and plays a critical role in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal 2 of providing primary education to all children in the world”, added Al Gurg.
Derese Getisa, Representative of the Regional Education Bureau in SNNPR said: “Our region is fortunate to host the HGSF pilot program, which has been supported by Dubai Cares. This project will not only stimulate the local economy by purchasing food commodities from the farmer associations, but will also support complementary activities such as deworming, water, hygiene and sanitation to help the children reach their full growth and academic potential.”
Praising Dubai Cares’ role in Ethiopia, Dr. Yousuf Al Sabri, the UAE Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union said: “Dubai Cares’ philanthropic efforts in Ethiopia, as well as the humanitarian interventions led by the UAE, reflect the principles of the UAE people and express the government’s direction to provide support to those in need, and make a positive impact on the country’s diplomatic efforts.”
Abdou Dieng, Representative and Country Director of WFP in Ethiopia said: “WFP is delighted to strike a partnership with Dubai Cares and is extremely grateful for its generous donations that will allow us to support more than 30,000 additional school children in impoverished areas for the next three years.”
Iain Gardiner, Senior Programme Manager, Partnership for Child Development at Imperial College London said: “The Dubai Cares funded HGSF program is a leading example of how different stakeholders can effectively pool their expertise to make a real impact on the health, education and wealth of farming communities in Ethiopia.”
“The strength of this program lies in the comprehensive approach it takes to improving the health and nutrition of school aged children through school feeding programs supported by improved water and sanitation facilities and deworming treatment. As part of the program, researchers will be conducting one of the largest school health monitoring surveys ever undertaken within Ethiopia. Using this new evidence-base, we will be able to ensure that these interventions are targeted to where they are most needed”, added Gardiner.
As an organization dedicated to increasing access to quality primary education for children in developing countries, particularly those who live in poverty and suffer from food insecurity, Dubai Cares implements integrated school health and nutrition programs to encourage children to enroll and stay in school. This HGSF program is based on Dubai Cares’ approach to partnerships that involves working through multiple implementing partners on a single program and focusing on each organization’s comparative advantage within a specific context. This approach maximizes the impact of philanthropic investments, avoids duplication and facilitates the sharing of best practices, which all result in better programmatic outcome and impact.