5. The women Group to feed primary school children in the Facobly department-

by

cantine

The mid-day meal being non-existent for many boys and girls, attending primary school classes becomes a nightmare. This reality is even more palpable in rural areas where resources are lacking for many families. The children must travel several kilometres to find their parents in the farms in the hope of having something to eat. It is to fight against this hunger issue, a factor of school drop and school failure, that the Ivorian Government set up the National School Canteens Department (DNCS).

Unfortunately, the Ivorian government policy to free school meal has been a failure despite the World Food Program support and help. The government has initiated the free school meal program to improve primary school children studies 20 years ago. The government has asked all villages to build their village school canteen. A school canteen is a school-based facility, usually located in a village or near a town, where students, commonly referred to as “rationnaires”, eat lunch at noon. As a response to the government, the villagers have built their children canteen.  Despite this effort, the government fails to provide food to the different canteen which remain empty during all school year. For those who are lucky enough, they receive few provision that has never been enough to feed all the children. There is therefore a lack of food and good management for the canteens to function normally.

Given the above, communities try to organise themselves to tackle the lack of food and the management of their children canteen issue.

In the department of Facobly, in the western part of Ivory Coast, some parents especially women have decided to address the issue by creating some groups designed to cultivate food especially for the canteen. Thus, 22 women groups, come together to create rice and cassava plantations. The movement started in a small village where a women association created the first rice farm specially for their local primary school canteen.  After few years of success, they extended their experience to other villages who did the same. They have also received the help of some local NGOs and the movement is growing to the entire department. The government still send food provisions to the department, but the women continue to work since the government aid is not enough. The villagers are even now involved in the management of the local school canteen. Now other departments are doing the same and that has helped to improve children school achievement and attendance.

 

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