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Sustainable School Health and Nutrition Program

Volunteer

Sustainable School Health and Nutrition Program (2014-2015)

Under nutrition is a major public health problem among children in Ethiopia causing irreversible consequences on children’s physical and mental health and contributes to over half of child deaths. School-age children face high levels of illness and malnutrition during their crucial growing years, decreasing their ability to pay attention and progress in school. Reports indicate that school children can lose as much as 160 days each year due to illness because under nutrition magnifies the effect of every disease (FAO, 2012).

For these reasons, IFA launched its Sustainable School Health and Nutrition Program (SSHNP) in 2014 for the most under nourished children in two schools, namely Agazian No. 2 and Sibiste Negasi Primary Schools, both serving a poor catchment area in Nefas Silk Lafto area, Addis Ababa. 

Our overall goal is to provide a self-sufficient and sustainable program that contributes to the improved health and educational achievements of vulnerable students in selected schools. The SSHNP aims to increase the availability of a school-based nutrition and health service,  address micronutrient deficiencies, improve health issues such as parasitic infection and poor hygiene methods, and improve attendance rates  resulting in improved learning opportunities 

In order to make the program sustainable IFA, in partnership with the schools, has developed Income Generating Activities (IGAs) that will secure the necessary funds to mitigate donor dependence. The building of two bakeries on the school sites (to sell bread to distributors and the local community) have been selected by both schools as profitable IGAs following comprehensive feasibility studies. All profits received from the IGAs will be reinvested back into the SSHNP. The plan is for the bakeries to be functioning by the end of 2015. 

In addition, a mushroom production business has been set up at Sibiste Negasi Primary School with promising results. A vegetable garden on site is proposed for 2016 with all produce going to the program. The SSHNP has successfuly supported 170 students in both schools during the academic year 2014-2015. 

 

Scaling-up: Sustainable School Health and Nutrition Program (2015-2016)

IFA's SSHNP is strongly in line with the new global Sustainable Development Goals, 'Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,' adopted at the UN conference in September 2015 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics). At the national level, Ethiopia is also committed to the new Seqota Declaration "A commitment to end child under-nutrition in Ethiopia by 2030." In line with this declaration, the Ethiopian government has launched a school meal initiative known as “Yenat Gwada” ( Mothers’ Nook) from October 2015, feeding some of the vulnerable school children in Addis Ababa. 

IFA is now proud to announce that only a year after launching its first fully-fledged SSHNP in 2014, it is scaling up the program to three schools by adding two more urban schools namely, Lafto Primary School and Hana Primary School, in Addis Ababa and one rural school, Jihur Primary School, in Northern Shoa, Amhara Region. This brings the total number of schools in which IFA is implementing its flagship program to five and the number of schoolchildren benefiting from the program will go up from 170 to 500. Additional IGAs have been selected by the three new schools and will be developed in 2016. 

 

Plant-Based Nutrition

IFA supports and advocates a nutritional plant-based diet for Africa in the fight against poverty and malnutrition. It has been well-documented that meat production consumes a significantly larger proportion of food and resources such as grass, grain and water than a plant-based diet. In addition, meat production feeds proportionately fewer people than the same amount of energy and resources needed to raise plants for human consumption. It is estimated that between 10-20 times more people can be fed on a plant-based diet than on a meat-based diet, therefore there is no reason why so many people should be starving in Africa. 

IFA has been working with vegetarian/vegan societies in Ghana and Togo and has been instrumental in the establishment of the first Ethiopian Vegan Association in September 2010. IFA has introduced plant-based feeding as an integral feature of its SSHNP and plans in the future to incorporate it into its proposed Community Health and Development Program in Zemero. The plan is to cultivate sustainable economic development through the growth of power-water-food production capacity. Locally produced wholesome plant foods, in collaboration with the local people, will be grown using an integrated farming approach through a combination of home and community gardens, small farms and fields.