The first operational phase of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is to take-off within the next two weeks, involving 138 schools, one in each district of Ghana and will provide one hot meal a day for about 38,000 pre and primary public school children.
This first phase of the programme proper which is to be implemented over a 5-year period (2006-2010) is envisaged to cover about 200,000 pupils in the first year and additional 300,000 pupils each year for the remaining years up to about a cumulative 1,500,000 children by the year 2010. Eventually, it will be expanded to cover all pre and primary children in the country.
Disclosing this at a meeting with the Ghanaian Community media and elders recently in The Hague, the Deputy Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Honourable Kofi Poku-Adusei (Member of Parliament for Bekwai) who was at the head of a three-man Ghanaian delegation to the Netherlands to hold discussions on the project with the Dutch government told the meeting that the cost of the programme for this year is about 20 million Euros, of which the Dutch Government and its people have committed to contribute 6 million Euros.
Explaining further, the Deputy Minister said the programme is estimated to cost about 30 cents a day to feed a child which is worked out to cost about 60 Euros a year of 195 school days.
However, the total budget for the programme for the five-year period is estimated at USD 328 million (270 million Euros) comprising of a total Capital Expenditure of USD 15 million and Operating Expenditure of USD 287 million and other expenditure of USD 26 million.
He said the current phase is being embarked upon following the success of a pilot programme that was run for one school term, from September to December, 2005 and covered about 1800 pupils.
During question time, it became clear Ghanaians were skeptic about how this laudable project could be run without corruption. But Mr. Kwame Owusu Nuako, Director of the Ministry for Rural Government, Rural Development and Environment and member of the delegation, in charge of Monitoring and Evaluation of the project allayed such fears by explaining that the structure of institutional framework for implementation of the project has a national implementation secretariat that has implementation committees, chaired by District Chief Executives (DCEs) at each district.
At the Community level, School Implementation Committees, including Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) will be in charge and each beneficiary school will take charge of affairs at the school level, which to a very large extent will check incidence of corruption, he said.
But at the national level, the final authority for decision making on implementation of the programme resides in the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment through the GSFP Secretariat set up by the Presidency to implement the programme.
The programme is a professed national solution, within a broader framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) endorsed by the New Partnership for Africa?s Development (NEPAD) which among other objectives, seeks to promote increase in domestic food production, reduce hunger, improve school enrolment and ensure school attendance and retention among the target group of school children in most deprived communities in Ghana.
While the cooking of the food is undertaken by a selected and properly screened female parents of the school children, locally produced and processed foodstuffs will be the main source of the meal.
This meeting, which was arranged at the instance of the Ghana Embassy in The Hague, and is considered to be a followed up to a similar one held in Amsterdam by Sikaman Foundation at which The Netherlands' Hunger Task Force to fight malnutrition in Africa representative for Ghana, Mr. Hans Eenhoorn, in an information session on the project, addressed a cross-section of the Ghanaian community.
In her closing remarks, Her Excellency Dr. (Mrs.) Grace Amponsah ?Ababio, Ambassador of Ghana to the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands thanked the media and the community leaders for honouring the invitation at short notice and asked the programme to be accorded all the importance in terms of publicity it deserves.
Mr. H. Hanson-Hall, Deputy Head of Mission and responsible for Economic, Trade and Investment section of the Embassy moderated the meeting. Another member of the three-man delegation from Ghana present was Mrs. Irene Massiba, Assistant Director of the Ministry Local Government, Rural Development and Environment as well as Mr. A. Schilpand, the Dutch Project Coordinator for GSFP.
Source: Akasanoma Radio Amsterdam/Sikaman Foundation