School Feeding Program Gets Boost from Mauritania-Senegal Exchange Visit

June 10, 2022

In May 2022, a team of 17 people including officials from the government of Mauritania, local and regional leaders, and Counterpart staff traveled to the Republic of Senegal. The goal of the visit was to increase the participants’ capacity in technical expertise, share lessons learned, and gain a deeper understanding of the implementation model in Senegal where Counterpart has been working under the McGovern-Dole project since 2007.

The team paid a courtesy visit on May 9, 2022, to Ndeye Khady Mbodj Diop, Senegal’s secretary general of the ministry of national education and her staff. She provided a history of Senegal’s school meals program and the engagement of the government with the school feeding, remarking on the valuable collaboration with Counterpart.

Participants with the Senegal’s Secretary General of the Ministry of National Education

She said, “Counterpart is a strategic partner for the government as it intervenes in school feeding, which is a priority for the country. Congratulations to Mauritania’s government for its engagement with the school meal program. For such trips, we will ensure to bring along mayors, as you did. It is something we learned from you.”

The team also spent the day visiting the local partner ARED, which is instrumental for the reading activity of the project. In conversations with staff at ARED, the group learned more about Counterpart activities.

On May 10, 2022, the team spent time with the USDA team in Senegal. Barret Bumpas, Regional Agriculture Attaché in charge of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Niger, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Mauritania, and Mamadou Djibril Bousso, Agricultural Specialist. The team briefed the USDA team on the government of Mauritania’s school feeding and the tremendous support they provided to the McGovern-Dole project. According to Sidaty Ine Bouye, Mauritania’s school feeding director, “This is the first time that such a learning visit is implemented with such important various actors since my appointment as school feeding director since 2011. Your local purchase commodity system for the school feeding will help us improve as well as the financial contribution the Government of Senegal provides to schools.”

Bumpas provided an overview of the USDA office in the region with a focus on 14 projects and responded to questions. He valued the work Counterpart is doing in both Senegal and Mauritania, saying, “Thank you, government officials [and] local leaders for coming to make your program better. And thank you to Counterpart for the great work you are doing.”

Working session with USDA Agricultural Attaché in Senegal

The team traveled to Saint Louis on May 10-12, 2022, to meet with regional and local leaders and visit the school feeding programs of the government of Senegal and Counterpart McGovern-Dole project. This short trip allowed the team to see the new schools and latrines built by Counterpart in Senegal, the management of WASH activities, and the strong involvement of the parents’ associations.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson was to see that after 20 years of working in the country, Counterpart is ending its participation in the school meals program. This was a great opportunity to discuss the transition phase which seems to be going well thanks to the involvement of the parents, the government, and local mayors.

Working session with a school management committee in Senegal

The team had a round table discussion with the Senegal’s division of school feeding to share lessons learned and tools on May 13. The team travelled back to Mauritania on May 14, 2022.

In his parting remarks, Ly Oumar, mayor of Djewol, in southern Mauritanian, thanked the Senegalese team for the warm welcome and the tour, which was done in calmness. He said the best idea he obtained from this tour was to encourage the planting corn in Mauritania as in Senegal and use it for school meals. “It’s the face of the host that encourages you to eat his food,” he repeated several times during the trip thanking the Senegalese team for their availability to share best practices in their school feeding program.

Learn more about the Mcgovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in Mauritania here.

Learn more about the Mcgovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in Senegal here.

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