NANCY SIAME, Katete
A school feeding project that covers education, nutrition, community development and environmental sustainability is on the cards in Katete.
The project is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education in partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.
WFP and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation have put up a biogas digester with help of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) to light up teachersâ€™ houses and to power an oven in the kitchen used to prepare food for 600 pupils at Kamphampe Primary School in Katete.
Speaking during the launch of the project at Kamphambe Primary School on Thursday, Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Michael Kaingu said the model should be adopted by every school.
Dr Kaingu said biogas digesters provide a cheaper alternative source of energy.
â€œMy ministryâ€™s commitment to this goal is seen by the allocation of K32 million to the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HMSFP) for the 2015 school year,â€ he said.
Dr Kaingu said the HMSFP meets a number of sustainable development objectives.
â€œThis programme leads to better attendance and better performance at school,â€ Dr Kaingu said.
SNV country director Sue Ellis said the project demonstrates a model for home-grown school feeding in Zambia that improves nutritional outcomes for pupils while saving money and the environment.
Dr Ellis said SNV Netherlands Development Organisation provided US$12,000 to construct the engine and shelter at the school.
She said 40 community members were also trained on how to maintain the site, which is the first in the country.
â€œThe generation concrete engine is working well and pipes have been connected to tap gas to the cooking shelter and some teachersâ€™ houses, which is a good incentive for them to remain here,â€ Dr Ellis said.
He said before the feeding programme was introduced, pupils were only eating maize, cowpeas and oil provided through WFP and government.
â€œThis did not provide all the nutrients needed by the children but the vegetables and fruits being grown in the garden will provide most nutritional needs.
â€œBy using the biogas digester to cook food, the school is saving 1.2 tonnes of firewood a year which is as big as a football pitch,â€ she said.
She said her organisation intends to put up such projects in all rural schools across the country.
WFP country director Simon Cammelbeeck said the project can also be used in urban areas as an alternative source of energy, especially in light of the hydropower crisis.
Mr Cammelbeeck said one million vulnerable children are currently benefiting from the HMSFP from over 2,000 schools.
â€œBecause of the feeding programme, school attendance has improved because most children look forward to meal times,â€ he said.
Earlier, Dr Kaingu paid a courtesy call on Katete district education board secretary Ruth Moyo and district commissioner Joseph Makukula.
NANCY SIAME, Katete