Dubai Cares on Sunday launched a four-year Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme in Ghana which will improve the education, health and nutrition of over 320,000 primary school aged children and the livelihoods of over 80,000 rural households.
The UAE-based philanthropic organisation was founded in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Commenting on Dubai Cares' achievement, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, said: "In 2007, Dubai Cares was launched with the belief, held by Sheikh Mohammed, that education is the most effective tool to break the cycle of poverty and a desire to give children, regardless of their nationality, creed or religion, the opportunity to become positive contributors to society. Today Dubai Cares is reaching over seven million children in 28 developing countries with primary education programs that are making a difference in the lives of children and their communities."
The programme, which is receiving approximately Dh10 million ($2.7 million) in funding from Dubai Cares, will be implemented by the philanthropic organisation with Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and will support the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), a poverty reduction initiative launched in 2005 by the Ghanaian government.
The Dubai Cares programme was launched through an official event in Ghana attended by a Dubai Cares delegation led by Al Gurg, representatives from the local government and several international organisations including Ghana School Feeding Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Food Programme, World Bank and SNV.
Speaking at the launch event, Al Gurg said: "This program is based on the principle that healthy children learn better. Homegrown school feeding programs have shown to improve children's regular school attendance as well as their cognitive learning through healthier and nutritious food intake. On a global level, these interventions are helping developing countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals related to primary education."
The Homegrown School Feeding program represents a sustainable and integrated alternative to providing school meals to children while supporting economic activity in rural areas.
Al Gurg added: "This program will not only benefit school children, but marginal rural communities as well since the commodities required for producing the nutritious meals for school children will be procured from local farmers. This creates a self-sustaining cycle in which students receive the nutrition they need and household incomes increase."
Dr. Lesley Drake, Executive Director, Partnership for Child Development (PCD), said: "This support from Dubai Cares to Ghana will make a real difference to the health, nutrition and education of school aged children and the communities in which they live. The GSFP provides an excellent example of good practice and this funding will undoubtedly strengthen the platform for sustainable Home Grown School Feeding Programmes across the continent".
"We are delighted to have worked with Dubai Cares over the past two years to determine where our mutual investments can have the greatest impact," said Arlene Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This programme is an outgrowth of our collaboration, one which we believe will have a real impact on the lives of children, as well as smallholder farmers."