In Senegal, malnutrition affects over a quarter of children under the age of five, according to the World Bank, causing school attendance rates to suffer and drop-out rates to increase. At home, many children do not receive the nutrition they need to grow strong and stay attentive in school.
Challenges to nutrition, health and literacy are intertwined, so it is vital to address them in concert through community-led and community-based solutions.
With generous support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Counterpart International has been improving health and education in Senegal through the USDA Food for Education program since 2001. Under a new initiative, Counterpart and USDA will work directly with NCBA CLUSA and the Government of Senegal to improve the procurement of local and regional food for school nutrition programs.
Known as the Food Transition for School Cafeterias in Senegal Program (TACSS, in French), the initiative will target primary schools in three areas—Podor, Dagana and Saint-Louis—and will help improve nutrition for 30,000 children in the Saint-Louis region.
Working with other USDA projects in the region, such as NCBA CLUSA’s USDA-funded Millet Business Services project, this new three-year program will connect millet farmers and processors to school nutrition programs. These new partnerships will help to support additional activities with Counterpart’s McGovern-Dole Sukaabe Jaango project, which is targeting primary schools to transition to Community-Led School Feeding while also leveraging and incentivizing local agricultural production. TACSS will help strengthen the capacity of both community schools and the Senegalese Government to sustainably, effectively, and efficiently procure local commodities to supply school feeding programs. By increasing access to locally-grown and nutritious products like millet, cowpeas, mung beans and orange-flesh sweet potatoes, the program will also improve child nutrition and ultimately school attendance.
Building on the success of working with millet producers from the USDA Millet Business Services project, NCBA CLUSA will also expand that work to cowpea producers, developing strong producer organizations that can provide products for school feeding programs. NCBA CLUSA will also work with school and family gardens to introduce orange-flesh sweet potato, a high source of Vitamin A, a common nutritional deficiency in Senegal.
Working with complementary USDA funded programs and closely with the Government of Senegal, this collaborative partnership will be key to increasing the effectiveness of child feeding programs and providing a quality environment for education in Senegal.