By Maria Osman in Somalia

Participants at the Multisectoral Roundtable Meeting hosted by the Government in Mogadishu

Participants at the Multisectoral Roundtable Meeting hosted by the Government in Mogadishu in August to discuss building a government-owned national homegrown school feeding programme. Photo:WFP/Petroc Wilton

The ministries of Education, Culture and Higher Education; Agriculture and Irrigation; and Finance in Somalia have signed a joint Declaration of Commitment to develop a roadmap and establish inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms for the effective implementation of the National Homegrown School Feeding programme. This was during a Multisectoral Roundtable Meeting hosted by the Federal Government of Somalia in Mogadishu on 16 August 2023, to lay a strong foundation of building a government-owned school feeding programme. The meeting brought together technical teams from the Ministries to discuss a partnership aimed at ensuring that every child in Somalia receives a healthy and nutritious meal in school by 2030.

The Government recognizes that investing in human capital development is critical for building long term resilience, and the school meals programme in Somalia is a strong example of human capital investment. These efforts require fostering partnerships with other ministries, UN Agencies, the civil society organisations, private sector, and other development partners working in Somalia.

During the discussions, the Government made bold commitments to take this initiative forward. Ms. Nuura Mustaf, State Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, expressed Government’s intent to “establish a strong sustainable national homegrown school feeding programme in Somalia as a flagship social protection initiative.” She committed to leading development and implementation of an inter-ministerial transition plan.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Mr. Ahmed Mathobe Nunow said school meals cannot be delivered in isolation; linkages with national food systems are critical. He emphasized that homegrown school meals (whereby ingredients are sourced from local producers and retailers) can promote sustainable agricultural practices, connect farmers to markets and provide stable income. The Minister called for bold action and confirmed the Ministry’s commitment to operationalize homegrown school feeding across Somalia.

Mr. Suleiman Omar, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance, acknowledged that sustainable financing and good programmatic design would be critical for success. The Ministry committed to allocating a contribution from the national budget for the school feeding programme.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Somalia, Mr. El-Khidir Daloum confirmed WFP’s commitment to support transition to a nationally owned programme through technical assistance and support for resource mobilization and advocacy.