Minister confirms talks with states on school feeding programme

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Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development
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Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, has confirmed that she was in talks with state governments to continue implementing the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme despite the closure of schools nationwide.

Schools across Nigeria have been closed for about one week to limit the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.

She was relying on the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari in that regard.

Farouq said this while responding to questions at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus in Abuja on Monday.

Buhari had, on Sunday, directed the ministry to develop a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding programme.

“Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies,” Mr Buhari had said.

Some Nigerians had wondered how this could be implemented with the pupils currently at home after schools had been locked down.

The minister explained that vouchers would be issued to families.

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“We will provide vouchers and rations to families of children enrolled in the Home-Grown School Feeding Program to access nutrient-rich food provision,” she said.

Ms Farouq added the ministry is considering modalities to see how it will extend the president’s directive beyond the states where the lockdown has affected.

“In paragraph 50 of Mr President’s speech, he directed that our ministry works with the relevant state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding programme.

“We will be doing this and I have already started contacting the governors on agreeing on the modalities to adopt.

“I have accordingly contacted the programme heads of the programme. This particular task may have to go beyond the affected states because as we are aware, all schools are closed down and children are at home.

“So, we are looking at modalities to see how we will extend this directive beyond the states where the lockdown has affected,” she said.

EduCeleb.com recalls that the school feeding programme was introduced in 2016 as part of the N500 billion funded Social Investment Programme of the Buhari administration.

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It was projected to provide 1.14 million jobs across the country, including community women, who would be engaged as cooks.

In January, the ministry disclosed that over 9.9 million children in 54,942 schools across 33 states in Nigeria are direct beneficiaries of the school feeding programme.

The goals include tackling poverty and improving the health and education of children and other vulnerable groups.

Ms Farouq also said trucks conveying relief materials have been deployed and are expected to arrive at the affected states before the end of Monday.

This is following presidential directive to ease the sufferings of the vulnerable that might be affected by the lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks,” Buhari had said in his Sunday national address.

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