Signpost International are delighted to announce the start of a new project in Lomokori, Napak district, Karamoja, Uganda. The project entitled ‘Growing Our Future’ is centred around a sustainable school feeding programme which will improve educational attainment.
The grant funded by Baillie Gifford International Fund and administered by Foundation Scotland shall provide a sustainable feeding programme at a primary school in an extremely impoverished region of Uganda. Based on a proven model, this programme will have the dual effect of addressing child under-nutrition (87% of young children in the region do not receive a suitably nutritious diet) while simultaneously strengthening factors for attending school (just 21% of children aged 6-12 in Napak are in school).
This project will improve the health, retention, and educational attainment for 798 primary and Early Childhood Development pupils. This shall be realised through supporting the development of an agricultural programme to provide pupils with both school meals and a knowledge of improved agricultural practices. Lomokori primary school have eight acres of available land for agriculture. This project shall provide the school with the tools for production (including oxen and ploughs) and agricultural inputs (vegetable and crop seeds, cultivars, and fruit trees) as well as equipment for drying, processing, and storing the produce. Pupils, alongside members of the Parent Teacher Association and School Management Committee shall receive full training in improved agricultural practices, post-harvest handling, and health and nutrition. As part of the project a small kitchen facility will be constructed to enable preparation of daily meals, alongside “Lorena” energy efficient stoves to minimise carbon footprint.
The anticipated difference which this project will make to the direct beneficiaries and the wider community cannot be underestimated. Nearly 9/10 young children in the region are undernourished, some severely. From a health and development perspective providing such children with an additional nutritious meal five days per week is going to have a significant positive impact reducing the likelihood of stunting and other conditions linked to malnutrition. Further, by providing pupils with the knowledge and skills of improved agricultural practices these will be passed on to their households through skills-transference ensuring the benefits are multiplied throughout the community. By offering pupils a daily meal at lunchtime the project aims to reduce absenteeism and encourage class participation through improved concentration levels which has been realised in past projects.
Increased engagement and interaction positively influences the primary drop-out rate which is currently more than five times the national average. Traditionally, Karamojong boys would be responsible for tending the family’s cattle, and with no access to school or other opportunities would be vulnerable to coercion into cattle rustling and violence. Education is widely recognised as a disrupting factor to this behaviour and is thus an important foundation of peace locally. Further, Karamojong girls are traditionally married at a young age, however, studies have demonstrated that each year of additional secondary education reduces the likelihood for girls of marrying as a child and of having a first child before the age of 18 by five to six percentage points on average which has wide-reaching implications. Given the important role of education in successful, sustainable development we expect the lasting impact of the project to be considerable.
As the project will be implemented entirely at Lomokori Primary School the principal beneficiaries will be school pupils and shall be kept informed and updated through school assemblies. A series of meetings with local government departments and the wider community will be planned and delivered prior to commencement of activities to ensure full awareness and provide opportunity for inputting.
We would like to say a big thank you to the Baillie Gifford International Fund and Foundation Scotland for supporting this project.
Lomokori Primary School where the Growing Our Future project will be run.