McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in Mauritania
While 75% of the population in Mauritania depends on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism, the country has been facing drought exacerbated by climate change which has resulted in chronic food deficit. Over the past five years, food insecurity rates have hovered between 25 to 30% in the lean season. Food inaccessibility impacts the health and education of young children hindering their potential for growth, prosperity, and success. Such challenges of nutrition, health, and literacy are closely connected, and will all be addressed by Counterpart’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program – The Future is Ours.
Counterpart International and a team of local partners (ARED, EcoDev, and ONG Actions) will implement the USDA- funded five-year program (2019 – 2024) – The Future is Ours – to assist the Government of Mauritania to reduce hunger, improve health, and strengthen the primary education system. Implemented in Brakna and Gorgol, the program will serve 209 schools through integrated activities aligned with national education and health policies. Counterpart will work with schools, parents’ associations, community members, NGOs, and government agencies to:
• IMPROVE student attendance rates by providing nutritious daily school meals across 209 targeted primary schools;
• ENHANCE health and dietary practices by providing access to deworming medications and increasing knowledge of nutrition, and safe food preparation and storage practices;
• IMPROVE school infrastructure and increase access to clean water and sanitation by building storerooms, latrines, and water station systems;
• IMPROVE the literacy of school age children through the implementation of a multi-layered pilot program;
• IMPROVE school governance through strengthened community participation;
• INCREASE capacity of national stakeholders to ameliorate the quality of the primary school system; and
• STRENGTHEN capacity of local and national stakeholders to lead and maintain school feeding programs.
While implementing activities in the sectors of education, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, Counterpart and local partners plan to meet the following targets over the life of the project:
• DISTRIBUTE over 48.5 million meals to 115,085 of students;
• PROVIDE 209 schools with improved water sources and sanitation facilities, and stoves;
• TRAIN 5,554 individuals in safe food preparation and storage;
• PROVIDE deworming medication to 115,085 school children;
• TRAIN 3,964 individuals in child health and nutrition;
• REACH 1,142 pregnant women and 3,427 children under five with nutrition-specific interventions; and
• TRAIN 576 teachers, school administrators, and government officials in management and literacy.
COUNTERPART AND THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION ORGANIZED WORKSHOP ON SCHOOL FEEDING GRADUATION AND SUSTAINABILITY IN MAURITANIA
Counterpart International, in collaboration with Mauritania’s Ministry of Education held a workshop on graduation and sustainability of its McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 27-28, 2022. The workshop brought together national authorities, stakeholders, project partners, and USDA to meet and discuss the continuity of school canteens in the project areas and country.
In his opening remarks Barrett Bumpas, USDA/FAS Agriculture Attaché, observed, “the most important objective of the Food for Education program is to promote the sustainability of school feeding by identifying difficulties, limitation and possible solutions and developing realistic achievable action plan to increase the capacity of schools, communities, and the Government to effectively and efficiently supply school canteens after our program have ended”.
The event was held under the patronage of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Soumaro Ali Silly, and Cynthia Kierscht, US Ambassador to Mauritania.
Ms. Kierscht noted, “The important achievements of the project cannot be sustained without the support of the Ministry of Education whose leadership I applaud. Indeed, the Mauritanian government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to the new vision for education. The Government allocates more than $5 million annually for school nutrition programs”.
The 45 participants to the workshop included officials from the Ministries of Education, Health, Livestock, Agriculture, Social Affairs and Family, school directors, teachers, mayors, national and regional PTA leaders, Counterpart Mauritania and Counterpart Headquarter staff including Counterpart’s Director of Food Security, Mr. Brian Dotson, with remote participation from USDA staff, Ms. Trinishia Samuels.
The Secretary General of the Ministry of Education in his speech thanked Counterpart and the U.S government for the support of the McGovern-Dole project and noted that “This project will help Mauritania to improve student nutrition and strengthen the basic education
To equip participants with foundational knowledge on school feeding sustainability and graduation, several presentations were provided followed by questions and answers from participants. Presentations included:
• USDA perspective on project graduation, by Trinishia Samuels, USDA Program Analyst.
• Status of School feeding in Mauritania, by Sidaty Inibouye, Director of school feeding at the Ministry of Education.
• The Project’s main achievements, graduation and sustainability plan and community participation, by Counterpart’s staff.
The participants were organized into three breakout groups to work on different topics and develop suggestions and recommendations regarding the project’s sustainability and graduation plan.
The participants agreed on the following recommendations that will support sustainment of school feeding in the project target areas:
▪ Diversify and reinforce school funding through the Government of Mauritania, communes, technical and financial partners, and communities.
▪ Establish adequate infrastructure at schools (storerooms, latrines, refectories, kitchens, and water stations).
▪ Promote local procurement for school feeding.
▪ Strength community participation via PTA and school management committees.
The participants established a committee to follow up the implementation of the recommendations. The committee is composed of nine members: two from the Ministry of Education, two from PTA, two from commune mayors, and three from Counterpart and the project’s partners.
Counterpart will work with the Ministry of Education to ensure the implementation of these recommendation during the life of the project.
October 16th, 2021
LAUNCHING CEREMONY OF MCGOVERN-DOLE FOOD FOR EDUCATION AND CHILD NUTRITION PROJECT IN MAURITANIA
The Aleg 6 primary school, located in Aleg town, the capital of the Brakna region in Mauritania, hosted the official launching of the USDA-funded International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Project, which is implemented by Counterpart International in partnership with ARED, ONGActions, and Ecodev.
The launching ceremony was presided by Mohamed Malainine Ould Eyih, Minister of Education and the governors of Gorgol and Brakna, the president of Brakna regional council, the mayor of Aleg, the regional directors of education and health of Gorgol and Brakna, the education inspectors, prefects, WFP, World Vision, parents, teachers, and students.
In his welcoming speech, Mohamed Ahmed Challa, mayor of Aleg noted “We are delighted to celebrate the launch of this project that will benefit our commune, our region, and country”
Highlights of the ceremony included speeches from the mayor of the local municipality, the representative of the students, the PTA president, the president of the regional council, the Chief of Party of Counterpart International, and the minister of Education. The speeches outlined the project objectives, a call for full collaboration and ownership of the project by beneficiary communities, a pledge for total support by government institutions, and a detailed presentation of the project activities and implementation strategy. Desire Yamoego, Counterpart’s Chief of Party, shared his appreciation to the GOM “I would like to congratulate the Government of Mauritania for their strong engagement to the school feeding by allocating through the national budget more than $5 million for the national school feeding program which benefits 54,237 students in 465 schools”
In his remarks, the Minister of Education expressed the appreciation of the Government of Republic Islamic of Mauritania to the United States for this important project valued at $22. 5 million which will, over the life of the project, benefit 127,100 school children. He said, “This launching coincides with the world food day and the strong engagement from the Government of Mauritania for the school meal program. The school meal is now a permanent activity under the national budget managed by agency TAZOUR and CSA with the overall goal to fight against vulnerability and poverty in the country.”
After the speeches, the 10 high performing teachers were awarded, and thereafter, the officials visited Counterpart’s technical stand, where they were given a brief overview of the main achievement since the beginning of the project and also witnessed the community contribution which includes cabbages, tomatoes, carrot, salt, and sugar to the school meal activity. All guests visited the storeroom constructed by the project and stacked with USDA-donated commodities. They also witnessed the children eating their hot lunch and ended the launch ceremony with a symbolic plantation of moringa trees which will later help to improve the nutrition status of the school children.
The launching ceremony comes following the award of a grant to Counterpart by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the implementation of a five-year project whose goal is to improve food security, reduce the incidence of hunger, and improve literacy and primary education and thereby contribute to more self-reliant, productive societies. The launching initially planned in FY20 was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.