As such, taking into consideration current instability (around 1,000,000 displaced people minimum in Eastern DRC) and potential renewed difficulties in connection with Presidential elections due in November 2011, NRC believes that there will be continued need for Emergency school feeding at least for the whole of 2011-12 academic year for it does stimulate vulnerable children to attend classes and help schools cope with increased number of pupils both in displacement and return areas.
It is important to note that from the World Food Programme's point of view however, Emergency school feeding is purely linked to nutritional considerations and therefore targeted to areas where indicators justify it, but in light of the recently revised “global-hunger-index” amongst which DRC ranks first, it is very unlikely that conditions will evolve for the better in Eastern DRC in the short term and therefore Emergency school feeding should be extended.
Longer term perspectives in terms of handing over to local government are extremely limited as so far even “free education for all” remains a remote dream in DRC. On the other hand, substitutes for Emergency school feeding are currently being studied by NRC, first involving gradual introduction of a Cash & Vouchers approach in a selection of pilot schools as a first step towards reducing dependency on the WFP supply lines while increasing efficiency and stimulating the economy by local purchases of food needed.
Thereafter, self-sufficiency of these schools could be reinforced by developing Improved School Feeding Programs including food production on school-owned land by parents of vulnerable children, who in return for their work/commitment would gain free/cheaper access to education for their kids and receive a share of the harvests. Additional features of such program will include introduction of improved/fuel-efficient kitchen/habits both at school and at home, as well as small-scale animal husbandry (SSAH) for diversified sources of proteins and income generation.
For more information about the Norwegian Refugee Council visit www.nrc.no.
Special thanks to Kaja Haldorsen and the field staff of the NRC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for helping to coordinate the interview.