The Best is yet to Come
Kibre Haqamo, 13, is among the 705 (344 girls) children who benefit from morning meals served at Aleto Hawecho primary school in Boricha district, Sidama region, Southern Ethiopia. Together with her sister, they have been actively participating in school activities since the project has started the school meal ten months ago.
Sharitu Shanka has been the principal of Aleto Hawecho Primary School since 2014.
"I am a witness who saw the miracle what a school feeding program can make. Before the start of the school feeding program in March 2021, the number of students was only 347, now they are more than 700," Sharitu said. "I was teaching here when there were no school meals. The small number of students enrolled were either showing up late or dropping out when food became scarce at home," Sharitu recalls
Kibre and her sister walk for more than half an hour every school day. They arrive at school exhausted with an empty stomach. They always run fast to be on time for the morning meal.
"Children are more attentive when they get food before starting class. It helps concentration and pushes parents also to send girls to school," said Sharitu
Kibre and her sister are among the 163,000+ preprimary and primary school students in 499 schools benefiting from the 20 million dollars Save the Children led School Feeding Project funded by the Global Partnership for Education(GPE). The Comprehensive, Inclusive Learning and Development –School Feeding Project (CHILD-SFP) is operational in five country regions, covering 13 districts.
Kibre is grateful for what she and her sister had benefited.
"I come to school every day and stay here for the whole day. Gone are the days when I sit in the class feeling hungry. My school days are joyful now. The food helped me to be attentive. I had always dreamt of becoming a doctor. I work hard to achieve my goal," Kibre said.
The project also provides support in building the capacity of the experts at the district's education offices and the teachers in the target schools. It also built modern kitchens and pit latrines. All of the kitchens in the target schools are equipped with at least three portable stoves which can be used for large-scale cooking. The stoves can save up to 70% of fuel compared to the three-stone open fire. This makes the stoves environmentally friendly as well as economical. Feeding and cooking utensils have also been distributed to the schools with a sufficient quantity proportional to the number of the students.
CHILD-SFP has also constructed WASH facilities, including pit latrines.
"Before the project, the students used to practice open defecation. Now, this practice has changed for good. Our school has decent pit latrines with handwashing facilities. We have separate latrines for boys and girls. We also have special latrines for students with disabilities. "A water pipeline system has also been installed within the school - from a source which is more than 1.3 km away from the school vicinity," the principal explained. "We are hopeful that the support will continue in a much better way. We started to see positive changes. But the best is yet to come," Sharitu concludes.