Even in northern Senegal’s extreme heat and dry, desert-like conditions, the moringa tree stands tall, its feathery green leaves representing hearty meals and improved nutrition for children throughout the region. Counterpart International is working with local communities to fill the dry landscape with these small but mighty moringa trees.
With support from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Counterpart is providing nutritious meals to 45,070 students across 270 schools in the Saint Louis region of northern Senegal as part of its McGovern-Dole International Food for Education (FFE) and Child Nutrition Program. The success of the project is due in no small part to Counterpart’s network of strong partners, including both local organizations and national and international stakeholders, like the Peace Corps Senegal.
Counterpart has been collaborating with Peace Corps since 2005 in the regions of Saint Louis and Matam, and recently formalized this relationship with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. In addition to other trainings and technical support, the Peace Corps and Counterpart are working together to help local communities plant and harvest moringa plants. Moringa is known for its nutritional value and ability to thrive in difficult landscapes and provide healthy doses of vitamin A, iron, calcium, vitamin C and proteins.
More than 200 trainings have been conducted, educating teachers and parent teacher associations about moringa planting techniques, and the local communities are learning how to turn the leaves into a powdered food supplement to give the school children. Improving the nutrition and health of students is key to ensuring higher school attendance rates and greater academic success, as well-nourished students are able to better focus on their studies.
Mr. Abdoulaye Sarr, President of the School Management Committee of N’diakhaye Elementary School, applauded the contribution of Counterpart and Peace Corps, remarking that, “After the training, we have a good understanding of the virtues of moringa and are sufficiently equipped to transform moringa leaves into powder for use in our diet.”
The introduction of moringa powder will help add critical nutrients to the students’ diets, having a positive impact on health, attendance and academic performance. As of today, 6,675 moringa trees have been planted in 267 project schools, and some parents have already planted additional trees at their homes in hopes of bringing some of the other benefits of the powder (including combating high blood pressure, constipation, and fatigue) to the rest of their family members.
Counterpart’s twelve-year relationship with Peace Corps Senegal is one built on the mutual goal of improving the health and nutrition of the students and communities in northern Senegal. With this support, local parents and schools are learning how to improve the nutrition of their children and their communities. Counterpart is proud to partner with Peace Corps in order to improve the lives of people throughout Senegal.