SNV Ghana empowers communities to take charge of local school feeding projects
Ama Kibirisu, a mother of four, sells a locally brewed drink known as ‘pito’ in Nanyiar in the Bunkpuruku Yunyoo district of the northern region of Ghana. Her children attend schools within the district. Like many members of her community, she is very excited about the introduction of the government’s school feeding programme in the village.
Ms. Kibirisu and other members of the community support the programme by providing their labour to build kitchens for schools and by collecting water and firewood for meal preparation. “By participating, the school feeding programme becomes ours,” she observed. The Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) is being implemented across all 10 regions of Ghana. There are however, challenges in the implementation process that have prevented communities from fully benefiting from the programme.
In 2011, SNV initiated social audits to address some of these challenges in 20 of Ghana’s districts. The social audits bring together members of the community and officials with control over school feeding funding to discuss the state of school feeding in the district. For more information on the social audit process in Ghana, please refer to 'Turning challenges into change: How social audits are improving school feeding in Sissala East'.
A social audit session at Bunkpuruku Yunyoo district identified critical issues regarding the quality and quantity of food served in schools and weak linkages between caterers and farmers. The communities in this district addressed these challenges through a reform agenda, or action plan. The reforms seek to sensitize stakeholders to the school feeding concept and to their roles and responsibilities, inform about the funding and implementation, increase signed contracts between caterers and farmer organizations as well as agreements between caterers and local banks to participate in a loan program that will allow caterers to access more capital to support purchasing from local farmers. Since 2014, 220 people in the Bunkpuruku Yunyoo district have participated in social audits.
The social audit process has been successful in creating community awareness, transparency, and enhanced accountability between duty bearers and right holders. More importantly, it has given community members like Ms. Kibirisu increased ownership over the process through which her children are fed and farmers in her community are supported. Her investment and the investment of other parents and community members like herself in the system strengthens the platform upon which smallholder farmers can reach school feeding markets.
To complement the social audits, SNV has also used radio programmes as a means of spreading awareness on social accountability and auditing. An account of this initiative can be read here.