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Regular Coordination Council meeting on school feeding held in Sughd province of Tajikistan

On 7 October, members of the Interdepartmental Coordination Council on School Feeding met again in Khujand, Sughd province, to discuss school feeding issues and identify solutions to existing problems. The first off-site meeting was held this spring in the Khatlon province.

Following the established tradition a day before the meeting, on 6 October, the members of the Coordination Council: Representatives from the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Education and Science, Agriculture, Finance, the “Tajikstandart” Agency and the Sanitary and Epidemiological Station (SES) set off on school visits to see how the meals were organised in schools No. 35, No. 22 and No. 53 in Istaravshan.

Three schools with different forms of organisation of school feeding participate in one project, hence reflecting how many options are available to make school meals better, higher quality and more diverse with the support of parents, local authorities, international donors and private sector.

As part of the School Feeding Programme, a greenhouse has been installed at School No. 35 to provide schoolchildren with fresh vegetables directly from the garden, adding to their school menu numerous vitamins and minerals. Another 1.5 hectares of school garden are regularly irrigated with water from a specially set up borehole, allowing the school to grow high quality agricultural products.

In School No. 22 the WFP helped to set up a canning facility as well as install greenhouses to grow vegetables and plant 250 fruit trees on 0.5 hectares of land. The canning facility has already provided with the first batch for winter food storage in order to be used for school canteen - 644 litres of canned food (juice, jam, tomatoes).

School No. 53 in turn was provided with drinking water and irrigation system and 4,100 seeds of fruit trees to be grow on the 4.5 hectares of land. The use of the school gardens helps significantly to improve meals for the schoolchildren. Part of the harvest is used to prepare different kinds of meals and part are set for sale, the funds raised can be spent on school’s needs.

The official part of the off-site meeting was held at the Sugdiyon hotel in Khujand. Mahina Nabizoda, Head of the Education Department of the local executive body of the Sughd province, said that the meeting will be a strong impetus for improving school feeding in Sughd province and spoke about the activities of the local Coordination Council as well as parents’ involvement to improve school feeding for their children.

With the help of PTA (the Parent Teacher Association) school menus are regularly supplemented with milk and dairy products, rice and mung beans, vegetables and tea.

Schools monitor the current status of school meals on a monthly basis. A special WFP corner has been set up in all schools with instructions, notebooks for recording student attendance, calculations and menus.

The next Coordination Council meeting is expected to take place in Rasht district in November.