September 15, 2022

12 September 2022 – For the sixth consecutive year, the United Nations (UN) Rome-based agencies (RBA) – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – jointly celebrated the UN Day for South-South Cooperation – an annual event marked on 12 September.

This year, the occasion took place in the form of a Thematic Solution Forum (TSF) at the eleventh annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo 2022 in Bangkok, from 12 to 14 September, organised by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and co-hosted by the Government of Thailand and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The TSF held on September 12 focused on “Leveraging South-South and Triangular Cooperation to unlock the potential of national home-grown school meals programmes to transform local food systems”. This forum presented the upcoming RBA joint programme on SSTC in Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF), which aims to benefit five countries – Sao Tome & Principe, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and the Philippines.

This event enabled a dialogue between Member States, UN Agencies, and partners on how HSGF programmes can support achieving food security and nutrition for all, especially in the context of the current global food crisis.

The panel was composed of Government representatives from Kenya, Sao Tome and Principe, and Senegal. Representatives from the Global South voiced their views on their challenges and approaches to HGSF.

Ms. Nerreah Anyango Olick, Director of Primary Education, Ministry of Education Kenya highlighted, “The home-grown school feeding programme is vital to the growth of Kenya. By leveraging SSTC, Kenya is able to showcase experiences and good practices and, at the same time, learn from other countries to strengthen and scale up our own HGSF programme”.

H.E. Francisco Martins dos Ramos-Pardal, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Sao Tome and Principe expressed, “With the support of the Rome Based Agencies, Sao-Tome and Principe can benefit from the expertise of other countries to strengthen our national school meals programme, particularly for the development of nutrition guidelines and standards”.

Mr. El Hadji Seck, Director of School Canteens at the Ministry of National Education of Senegal stressed that “Senegal acknowledges the role that school canteens can play in the development of school-aged children and is committed to increasing advocacy for more investment in this field with the support of partners (RBA)”.

A representative from Japan also joined the event to share country experience on HGSF, “Japan has many good practices to share with other countries, by tapping into SSTC, these good practices can be adapted to fit varying country contexts and development stages.”

Beyond representatives from the Global South, the event also enabled RBA Directors for SSTC to issue some key messages that will guide the joint support provided to host governments:

“Strong, coordinated, and effective collaboration with our sister agencies, on strategic food-related initiatives is crucial. The Global South needs to be supported in its endeavour towards sustainable agri-food systems transformation through the SSTC mechanism” said FAO’s Anping Ye, Director of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST).

Mr. Ronald Hartman, Director of Global Engagement, Partnership, and Resource Mobilization at IFAD, who moderated the event emphasized the necessity to support smallholder farmers to reinforce local value chains, “school meal programmes have the potential to improve not only the nutrition of schoolchildren but also the incomes of the smallholders who are providing the foods that are used to prepare the meals” he said.

WFP’s David Kaatrud, Director of the Humanitarian and Development – Programme and Policy Division highlighted, “The RBA joint SSTC programme on HGSF is a concrete way to operationalize our commitment to achieve more impact and expand the reach of our support, especially to those countries who need it the most”

The event was well attended –  in person and virtually –  and contributed to raising the visibility of this new RBA joint SSTC initiative. During the event, partners expressed interest in forming new collaborations by leveraging SSTC and in learning more about the initiatives mentioned during the event.

By leveraging each agency’s comparative advantage, RBA-facilitated SSTC can play a pivotal role in enabling countries of the Global South to share their knowledge and experience to contribute to achieving the goals of the Global School Meal Coalition and strengthening national food systems to reach the most vulnerable individuals and groups.