Ghana School Feeding Programme calls on the government to address payment delays
In a communique published by GSFP on December 8, 2014, the programme calls on “the government, through the Ministry of Finance to rectify the current fund flow gaps for the benefit of our children in deprived communities who look up to these meals for their survival in the classroom.” The communique, issued in honour of Farmer’s Day, also calls on the government to review the grant of 50 Pesewas per child “as a matter of urgency.”
According to the communique, GSFP is delivering on its promise to reduce hunger and malnutrition, increase school enrolment and retention, and promote domestic food production. Nationwide, 39% of primary school pupils eat meals provided by the programme, and the dropout rate at GSFP schools is at an all-time low at 1.4%. However, despite these successes, the communique asserts that late payments and insufficient funding per child are jeopardising the entire programme.
The communique was inspired by Ghana’s National Learning event organised by GSFP, SNV’s PG-HGSF project, PCD, the World Food Program, AGRA and UNICEF. Organisers and attendees of the Ghana National Learning event left with both positive and negative lessons to share with others involved in school feeding. Encouraging information was presented, such as the overall increase in school enrolment since the inception of GSFP. Since 2005, the average number of pupils enrolled in GSFP schools has increased by 18% and during the 2013/2014 academic year, the total enrolment of beneficiary pupils increased by 320.6%.
But, the key problem underlined was the recurring issue of late payments to local school feeding caterers. The delays affect not only the quality of meals delivered to pupils but also the inclusion of products from smallholder farmers. GSFP states: “The current irregular flow of funds inhibits caterers’ ability to purchase foodstuff directly from smallholder farmers, limiting the well-intended goal to boost local food production and provision of quality meals for our children to improve their nutritional and healthy status.”
SNV joins participants of the National Learning Event in support of the GSFP’s call for the Government of Ghana to finally and sincerely address the issue of delayed payments - to the relief of caterers, school officials, pupils and smallholder farmers.