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FG to commence school feeding programme Thursday

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The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development said it will commence the school feeding programme Thursday, May 14, 2020 in Abuja.

The ministry also noted that Lagos and Ogun states will commence shortly after FCT before the other states of the federation join.

Despite the closure of schools, President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 29th, 2020 directed the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq to liaise with state governments to develop strategies on the continuation of the school feeding programme.

The Deputy Director of Information in the ministry, Rhoda Iliya in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday said 3,131,971 households of children in primary 1 to 3 in public schools will benefit from the intervention.

The ministry explained that each household will receive uncooked food items valued at N4, 200.

According to the ministry, the ration has been assessed and approved by nutrition experts as sufficient for the children.

The ration contains a 5kg bag of Rice, 5kg bag of beans, 500ml vegetable oil, 750ml of palm oil, 500mg of salt, 15pieces of eggs, and 140gm of tomato paste.

Giving further update on the programme, the minister during the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 said the ration is expected to last for a month.

Contrary to notion that it will be difficult to reach the pupils whose phone numbers and houses may not be known, the Farouq said: “We don’t need their phone numbers. It is a small community where the pupils are and from all indication, everybody knows everyone who attend the public schools.

“We are using security operators and structures on ground to ensure that the process is properly monitored and evaluated.

“We just inspected the stores where the food ration have been taken to and by Thursday, we are going to flag-off the food distribution in FCT to the households where the children come from. The dry food ration will last for one month”

The ministry in its statement also stated that over 6,000 schools will serve as distribution centres for clusters of communities except in some states with unique security and safety issues where other structures will be used.

The ministry also stated that with vouchers which are QR coded, serialized as well as dated and time-stamped, identified households will be able to access ration from distribution centres.

On how the ministry was able to identify beneficiaries, it said: “The Ministry in consultation and collaboration with state governments identified the distribution of Take-Home Rations (THR) to the households of the children on the programme as a feasible method of achieving this directive after exploring several options.

“This is a globally accepted means of supporting children to continue to have access to nutrient-rich foods despite disruptions to the traditional channels of school feeding.

“The Ministry has requested states to carry out mapping exercises in order to trace the households of the children using all available data sources including the School-Based Management Boards, community focal persons, cooks on the programme and most importantly existing school registers in the LGAs where the schools are domiciled, which is the primary source of data of beneficiaries used by the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP).

“As a second level of verification, the door to door voucher distribution process will be used.

“The provision of Take-Home Rations will, therefore, be carried out based on data provided and structures put in place by the HGSFP over the years, with the Federal Government providing funds to the States for implementation.”

The ministry also said based on requests from Kwara and Bayelsa states where the programme was not fully operational before the lockdown, the two states will be able to benefit from the modified programme once certain requirements are fulfilled.

As part of measures put in place to ensure adequate safety, the Ministry said it has incorporated rapid sensitization into all phases of the model so that people are equipped with the knowledge they need to stay safe and maintain social distancing while accessing and delivering the service.

“The Ministry is also deploying resources to provide oversight for these processes to ensure equity and accountability. Field personnel and monitoring teams have been set up and are ready to move.

“As an extra layer of monitoring, the ministry has requested other agencies of government including the DSS, EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, and a host of NGOs and CSOs to help monitor.

“The Ministry’s hotlines will be made available to the public to provide accurate information and for grievance redress.”

For those who are yet to be captured on the programme, the ministry said: “While the intervention is primarily for school children currently enrolled in the programme, the Ministry has also been engaging partners and other agencies to explore options for those children who are not current beneficiaries.

“Going forward, there is a need to critically examine and review data management strategies so that when faced with emergencies such as this, there will be easy access to rich, readily available and accurate data of all persons of concern for swift implementation of critical interventions. The Ministry is working diligently to actualize this in the shortest time possible.”

The ministry also urged state governments to deploy security agents to ensure the safety of beneficiaries, sensitize the communities and programme personnel on the need to ensure that the intervention reaches the intended beneficiaries, and facilitate the timely delivery of quality food supplies provided by the state aggregators.

It also called on well-meaning Nigerians to continue to donate to the poor and support those in need, noting that the resources available to the government are limited.
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