Some 850,000 students in Ethiopia, mainly from elementary schools are currently benefiting from the school feeding programs being implemented in different parts of the country.
Started initially by the World Food Program partial funding in Southern Region of Ethiopia a few years ago, the program is now taken over by the regional governments of Ethiopia. The regions are now are allocating budget for the program, according to a report of Ministry of Education of Ethiopia.
The school feeding program is also included in the draft national education roadmap of the country, which is expected, be finalized in the coming few months.A report by the state broadcaster ETV indicated that to feed over 226,000 students, the Southern Region has allocated some 29 million birr (Over $1 million).
Following the footsteps of Southern Region, Oromia Region has also been working to formalize the school feeding program to stop the hungry students from school dropout, according to the report, which indicated that farmers’ cooperatives and unions have been involved in production and supplying of food to the school feeding program.
Food shortage is one of the reasons causing dropouts in schools. Including in the capital; Addis Ababa, children has been reportedly collapsing in schools because of starvation. Following those reports, a few years ago some institutions such as the Ethiopian Airlines have been involved in feeding such students.
A recent study on the implementation of school feeding in Southern Region of Ethiopia suggested strongly recommend scaling up the program in other food insecure areas. “…Given the positive effects of the program in improving the school children nutritional status, dietary diversity and class attendance, we strongly recommend scaling up the program in other food insecure areas,” the study said.
Reports show that Ethiopia currently has over 28 million students in schools from primary to university level.
In Africa, a substantial proportion of the school children suffer from malnutrition, are stunted, or experience short-term hunger. Local studies in Ethiopia also indicated that under-nutrition is a major public health problem. In 2015, about 31% of the school children were undernourished out of which 19.6% were stunted, 15.9% underweight and 14.0% wasted.