Providing agricultural skills can make schools self sufficient.
Giving children a healthy meal every day is transforming their opportunities in life. But Child.org have discovered a way to go even further.
With just a little help, many of the schools we work with can feed themselves. Growing food at the school doesn't just feed the pupils. It also teaches them valuable agricultural skills that will stay with them for their whole lives; skills they will pass on to their own families and communities.
It also enables Child.org to move on to support another school, changing the lives of even more children.
To support schools with the tools and the skills they need to grow their own food.
Our model of breakfast clubs and school food gardens has been running successfully since 2010. We have seen significant improvements in attendance and performance in key subjects and in the well-being of the children.
Evidence shows that undernourished children are 20% less likely to be able to read as an adult, and earn 20% less than their peers over their lifetime.
In Kenya, malnutrition is the single greatest contributor to child mortality at 53% (WHO 2010). Most of these children will die from not having enough food to eat or diseases resulting from malnutrition. The nutrition action plan for Kenya cites the underlying causes of this as: "poor maternal/child care practices, household food insecurity and inadequate health services."
As well as addressing this urgent need, our food gardens have long term, sustainable benefit. Learning agricultural skills can free a child forever from being dependent on aid to feed themselves.
In the areas that Child.org work in, the importance of these skills, and their potential to change lives, cannot be overestimated. In Ghana, around 60% of the economically active population is engaged directly or indirectly in agricultural activities. A report from the World Bank states that "The sector has a crucial role in poverty reduction... since the majority of the poor are engaged in agriculture, particularly in food, crops and livestock."
In many places, being able to grow food at school can give a child long-term food security for the first time in their lives. This frees the child, their family and their community to focus on goals that will lift them out of poverty in the long-term.
Where we work
We are currently funding gardens in Nairobi, Meru, Thika and Kisumu in Kenya, in Volta, Ghana, Mukono and Wakiso (near Kampala), Uganda and Port Loko region in Sierra Leone.
Child.org want to reduce hunger and work towards breaking the cycle of poverty by ensuring that children go to school and are well fed so that they can learn and improve their chances of a better future.
Child.org pay for a nutritious breakfast while at the same time planting a garden full of fruit and vegetables. Once the gardens have matured, the schools will no longer need to buy breakfast for the children.
Healthy diet and nutrition are taught alongside the breakfast provision. The children also gain skills, knowledge and understanding about agriculture, compost making and recycling. They help manage the gardens so that there is a sense of ownership and pride.
Child.org encourages organic gardening through recycling, sacks and old tyres are used for pot gardening, eco stoves are provided to help reduce deforestation and projects create their own manure by using waste material.
By developing the food gardens and fostering agricultural skills alongside establishing the breakfast clubs, we can leave these schools within three years able to support themselves without depending on external funding. That's what a stable future means for these children.