SNV Ghana officially closed out the Procurement Governance for Home Grown School Feeding (PG-HGSF) project with a transfer of documents and lessons learned to the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP).
This came at the end of a results sharing event that brought together stakeholders from the NGO sector, government ministries and actors from the school feeding supply chain. The main objective of the day was to share experiences resulting from SNV and GSFP’s collaboration and to provide recommendations for continuing to strengthen the ties between school feeding and local agricultural producers.
The day began with opening remarks from Mr. Mawutor Abloh, representative of the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Social Protection, the Deputy National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Mr. Robert Arday, as well as SNV Ghana’s Country Director, Mr. André de Jager. Mr. Arday thanked SNV on behalf of “the underprivileged children who [SNV have] impacted in various way through [the] programme.” Mr. de Jager emphasised the potential for school feeding to not only ensure nutritious meals for children, but to also bring smallholder farmers into formal markets.
SNV Ghana began the day by outlining the project achievements and lessons learned, and emphasised key information for the GSFP and other actors to take up moving forward. After a brief overview of the project from Ms. Mawuko Fumey, Country Coordinator for PG-HGSF Ghana, Mr. Sylvester Ekpe described interventions that broke barriers to smallholder farmer inclusion in the school feeding market while Ernestine Sanogo presented pilot credit initiatives that were targeted to caterers, the key middlemen and women in the school feeding supply chain. Mrs. Alimata Abu explained SNV’s work with social audits to make the school feeding process more transparent and the government more responsive to the needs of the programme. Mr. Joshua Aboah expanded on other means of facilitating transparency within school feeding governance through public procurement processes.
Following these presentations, two panel discussions set the tone for the official handover of project results. The first panel, between GSFP, SNV, the World Food Programme, the Partnership for Child Development, and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, discussed how Ghana can further develop innovative supply chain models to link producers to school feeding programmes. There was excellent vertical discussion between caterers and the GSFP regarding their needs and how to move forward together. WFP supported the conversation by emphasising the need for a more streamlined financing system for both caterers and smallholder farmers. From this panel GSFP committed to paying caterers regularly and by child registered to the school. For the continued success of this programme, all panellists agreed to the need for better monitoring systems to ensure accountability and coverage of all schools.
The second panel, between representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, GSFP, Ghana Education Service, PCD, and SNV, explored why social accountability is important for the success of the GSFP. The Deputy National Coordinator for the GSFP cited school feeding as a public good, and therefore one that requires community involvement in order to be successful. The community should have access to complaint mechanisms like the social audits SNV piloted, and these feedback mechanisms should reach across different ministries, according to the panel’s discussion. From this panel, the Ghana Education Service proposed to include the GSFP in school performance appraisals to streamline accountability monitoring. Reflecting on school performance appraisals, Mrs. Fati Seidu, previous PG-HGSF Country Coordinator for Ghana commented “what gets measured is what gets done”.
Opening the floor to questions and comments on social accountability, caterer representatives spoke to the assembled group, asking that District Assemblies include caterers in their meetings so caterers can receive updated information from the source. Other attendees emphasised that accountability should be citizen-driven, and that schools, parents, caterers and farmers should come together in a social-audit-like setting to consolidate ideas and complaints so as not to overwhelm government mechanisms. The sentiment of collaboration was pervasive, with the understanding that when citizens understand what the government is doing and why, they are more likely to support government processes and programmes.
As the day came to an end, Mr. Mawutor Abloh summarised the activities the ministry is now engaging in after working with SNV Ghana, and assured attendees that they would continue to stabilise payments for caterers and to better target beneficiaries. He also stressed the continued focus of the ministry to increase monitoring and evaluation systems in order to maintain the rigour of the programme.
The symbolic transfer of project products and tools to GSFP signified the official end of the PG-HGSF project in Ghana. Mr. Arday accepted the responsibility of engaging the project’s lessons learned with the knowledge that SNV continues to hold expertise in inclusive procurement governance and can be called upon when needed by the Ghanaian government.