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World Food Program

Summary of Findings

Final: Between 2001 and 2002, USDA provided 70,900 MT of food aid to Kenya in support of the Global Food for Education Initiative. The donation allowed WFP to expand existing school feeding operations in the arid and semi-arid drought and famine stricken districts of the country. The expansion targeted an additional one million pre-primary and primary school children. In 2002, the total number of children assisted in school feeding programs across Kenya totaled 1.7 million.

The school feeding effort in Kenya has confirmed that food is an effective incentive to successfully attract children to school. As other partners in the nation’s education effort such as UNICEF, UNESCO, DFID and a variety of NGOs continue to work to improve the quality of the physical school environment, instructional methods and materials, WFP and USDA have helped to ensure the presence of children in the schools. For every day that the school feeding program continues in Kenya there is yet more evidence that the approach is helping the Government meet its goal of Universal Primary Education, particularly in the disadvantaged arid and semi arid regions of the country.

Midterm: Food provided in the school environment is extremely important to both teachers and students. Most parents do not send their children to school because of the cost of enrollment. Even with cost as the major limitation, enrollment levels and numbers of teachers have been fairly stable for the last two years and are beginning to show an increase.

Country Overview

Kenya is a low-income, food-deficit country with an aggregate household food security index of 71.7, ranking it 51 out of 61 countries. It has a population of 29 million (1997) and a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $281. In 1997, 43% of Kenya’s population was living in absolute poverty. The incidence of poverty is highest in the arid and semi-arid land areas. In 1997, the national average human development index ranked Kenya 134 out of 175 countries.

Since independence, education in Kenya has developed rapidly with impressive growth in qualified human capital. Primary school enrollment figures increased from 892,000 in 1963 to 5.6 million in 1996, and from 801,000 in 1989 to over 1 million in 1996 at the pre-primary school level. Policies aimed at strengthening primary education led to a gross enrollment rate of 95% in 1989. In 1996, however, high poverty levels and the increasing costs of education that were shouldered by parents decreased enrollment at the primary level to 77.5% by 1996.

Regional disparities in enrollment and achievement exist at all levels of education, with particularly low rates in some arid districts. Although there is gender parity in pre-primary and primary schools at the national level, there are pockets in arid and semi-arid areas where girls are highly under-represented. Economic, social and cultural constraints affect girls’ enrollment, attendance and achievement.

In Kenya, women work an average of 56 hours per week, compared with the 42 hours that males average. The situation is worse for young girls who work about twice as many hours as young boys. Women’s participation in decisions about household matters and especially expenditures is limited.

Almost 18% of Kenyan school children suffer from chronic stunting, with another

34% showing mild-to-moderate growth retardation, according to a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Nutritional deprivation was found to be much more prevalent in arid and semi-arid land areas. It is not uncommon for only one meal to be prepared daily and for children to go to school without eating breakfast. Poor nutritional status increases the risk of frequent illness and the likelihood of poorer performance and grade repetition at school.

In arid and semi-arid areas, cultural values and limited income often lead to a strong bias toward educating boys because girls are valued more for their traditional roles that are fulfilled through marriage and child labor. Girls are disproportionately affected by a lack of facilities and security as they walk long distances from homesteads to schools. Alternative venues for primary education for girls, such as boarding or informal schools, are often inadequate or nonexistent.

Nairobi is estimated to have more than 50,000 street children, orphans and child domestic workers. Children of teenage mothers, street mothers and mothers suffering from HIV/AIDS are highly vulnerable. About half of Nairobi’s school-age children do not attend school. Children from households headed by women are least likely to go to school as they are needed for household work.

Commodity Management

Final: Under the expanded school feeding program, students were also given corn-soya milk (CSM) that was prepared as porridge and distributed as a mid-morning snack.

Midterm: Under WFP’s school feeding program, the daily food basket for pre-primary and primary school children consists of 150 grams of maize, 40 grams of pulses, and 5 grams of vegetable oil. School children receive a maize meal porridge for a mid-morning snack and maize, beans, and oil for a midday meal. The food provides 700 kilocalories and 23 grams of protein per student per day.

Maize and beans are used as an in-kind grant to communities that undertake a number of labor-intensive activities at school. Emphasis is placed on building the capacity of school committee leaders and community groups to identify, plan, implement, and monitor their own school-based projects. This also supports Government and other agency efforts to improve school services. The school feeding program and the Ministry of Education are expanding their partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). WFP food assistance is channeled through NGOs to reach targeted schools. Food may also be used to assist in the development of school-based micro-enterprises aimed at increasing food production.

Commodity Arrival Schedule


Metric Tons

Arrival Date



June 2001



January 2002

Vegetable Oil


September 2001

Corn-soy milk


September 2001



Project Overview

Final: The expanded school feeding program was introduced in the arid and semi-arid districts of Kenya during the second term of 2000 to discourage the increasing numbers of drop outs due to the ongoing drought and famine. The districts selected were identified as the neediest in field assessments carried out by WFP, the Government of Kenya and various collaborating agencies.

The activity was initiated in May of 2001 in anticipation of the USDA-pledged commodities under the Global Food for Education Initiative. Previously, one million pre-primary and primary school children had been targeted to receive food aid under a WFP emergency assistance operation that served 12 arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) districts. With the USDA pledge, the number of beneficiaries was increased to 1.3 million school children in 16 districts supporting 4,700 schools. The ration consisted of maize, CSM and vegetable oil.

In 2001, prior to the initiation of expanded program services, a baseline survey involving a 350-school sample was conducted to allow for future comparisons and program evaluation.

For a number of years prior to launching the expanded activity, Kenya had operated a regular school feeding program in 21 national districts and in slum schools in two divisions in Nairobi. The regular program served 415,098 children bringing the total number of children participating in WFP supported school feeding efforts to 1.75 million in 2002.

In 2003, the expanded program was merged with the regular school feeding program. Budget revisions and retargeting operations reduced the beneficiary level to the current 1.1 million school children served.

Midterm: Many of the schools supported through the school feeding program have considerable problems accessing clean water, adequate fuel supplies, and fruits and vegetables to supplement the basic school feeding program. In addition, classroom space is inadequate in many schools, especially for pre-primary students.

The long-term objective is to promote universal education for socio-economically disadvantaged and nutritionally vulnerable children, especially girls, in pre-primary and primary schools in targeted arid and semi-arid land areas.

Active participation by girls and women in basic activities is reinforced through a series of community-based training activities. WFP and partners actively identify and promote positive female role models, facilitate additional resources targeted to women’s and girls’ education, and use local and international media exposure to highlight issues relating to hunger and poverty.

The types of projects that are supported include activities to:

Reduce the labor and food energy demand on women and children by bringing domestic water and fuel wood supplies closer to the school;

Rehabilitate or build more classrooms or other facilities, such as houses for women teachers; and

Encourage enterprises that produce food or income for school feeding.

The location and outreach of the NGO partners determine the geographical coverage within a targeted division.

Goals and objectives

Final: The objectives of the program from the Midterm have been expanded to include targeting girls. The new objective will help the Government of Kenya promote universal primary education for socio-economically disadvantaged and nutritionally vulnerable children, with special attention to girls, in the ASAL districts.

Midterm: The long term goals are to:

Increase enrollment, prevent dropouts, and stabilize attendance at selected pre-primary, primary and non-formal schools;

Improve school facilities and assist school committees and communities in the identification and development of enterprises to sustain school feeding programs;

Assist the Government of Kenya, donors, NGO’s, and communities in disaster preparedness activities for populations affected by high levels of food insecurity; and

Decrease malnutrition levels of children and women in selected arid and semi-arid land areas.

The immediate objectives are to:

Increase enrollment, prevent dropouts, and stabilize attendance at assisted preprimary and primary schools;

Improve the attention span and ultimately the learning capacity of students by relieving short-term hunger;

Provide vitamin and nutrient supplements to students in pre-primary and primary school in targeted districts of arid and semi-arid land areas;

Improve school facilities (water supply, classrooms, housing for women teachers, school-based agro-forestry); and

Assist school committees and communities in the identification and development of enterprises that sustain school feeding programs in the future.

Other donor support

Final: It should be noted that 90% of the commodities in Kenya’s school feeding program come from the USA. Under the GFEI, WFP Kenya received a total of 70,900 MT of food commodities. In 2002, the regular school feeding program received additional food donations from the US and other donor nations including Germany and Finland, totaling 3,000 MT of food.

Midterm: The Government of Kenya continues to increase budget allocations for school feeding to complement community efforts. The contribution is about $2.2 million per year, and its implementation capacity is adequate.

The contribution from NGO partners is estimated at $1.3 million. Sisters of Mercy contribute about $1.7 million per year, and the Catholic Diocese contributes $100,231 per year.

Implementation status

The Ministry of Education is responsible for implementing school feeding operations in Kenya.

Under the program, targeted beneficiaries include:

270,000 pre-primary and primary school children per year, 50 % of whom are girls, are receiving a food ration, cooked and supplied daily;

Pupils’ family members, especially women and girls, in 200 schools receive uncooked family rations; and

15,000 pre-primary and primary school children in urban slum schools receive a food ration, cooked and supplied daily.

WFP has been supporting the Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Diocese serve Nairobi’s urban slums. Under this project, 15,000 pre-primary and primary school children in formal and non-formal schools receive a mid-morning snack and hot lunch. Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Diocese target extremely poor children and proactively promote the education and training of girls. Currently, girls represent 52 % of enrolled children. The Ministry of Education handles overall food management and transfers food commodities to each NGO in Nairobi. Each NGO assumes responsibility for planning, implementing, monitoring, and reporting on the use of the food assistance.

Sustainability: Strategies for sustaining the school feeding program include:

School-based livestock production to provide extra income and give students milk and meat;

Poultry keeping;

Gardens and agro-forestry; and

Community fund-raising activities that establish revolving funds managed by parent-teacher associations and school committees.

Project Impact

Final: In 2002, WFP supported 1.75 million school children in 29 districts under its various feeding programs. The resources provided under the GFE initiative greatly enhanced WFP’s long-standing feeding activities which have been important supports to education in Kenya. The introduction of expanded activities in previously phased-out school feeding districts came at a time when the need for food assistance was critical. After a prolonged drought and in the face of prevailing hunger, enrollment in targeted districts had dropped and attendance had become irregular. The resumption of the program helped to reduce further dropouts while relieving short-term hunger and ensuring increased attentiveness among targeted children.

Education stakeholders in the arid and semi-arid regions have noted that the introduction of the expanded program played a significant role in boosting education standards in the areas at a time when the Government of Kenya was battling the drought. In the face of drought-related privation, few arid and semi-arid community residents considered education a priority. The principal preoccupation for all family members was the search for food – the most immediate need.

Most teachers said that before the program began, children were inattentive and unable to concentrate, especially in the afternoons. Absenteeism was common as was poor attendance. After implementing a school breakfast and lunch, however, most schools reported an atmosphere of active children whose level of participation in learning and other school activities had increased.

Increased enrollment and maintenance of attendance/retention rates in schools. The experience in rural Kenya has been that increases in school enrollment and regular class attendance are directly related to school feeding. Studies have shown that 90% of pupils in pastoralist/nomadic communities go to school because of the availability of a midday meal. Attendance/enrollment records at assisted schools demonstrate the stability the program promotes. Prior to the initiation of the program in Tharaka, Mbeere, Makueni, Kajiado and Koibatek records show a massive dropout rate during the prolonged drought. The Ministry of Education reported a rate of about 50% in some divisions in the most affected districts. The dropout rate among girls is particularly high during such crises.

The school feeding program has helped make it possible for disadvantaged girls to continue with their education. Data provided by the districts served to confirm the role that food aid plays in encouraging the enrollment of girls. In Kajiado, Baringo and Koibatek districts, only 2% of the girls enrolled in classes dropped out during the 2000-2002 drought.

Best Practices

Increased community participation in education. Since the introduction of the school feeding program, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) has used schools as centers for community development.

The WFP school feeding program has increased parent participation in the development and management of school kitchens and the provision of cooking utensils, firewood, storage facilities and water. Parents readily undertake tasks in support of the program and have proven to be well organized.

MoEST has established school feeding committees in the targeted schools to help increase parental involvement in management. Their participation promotes a sense of ownership and through these committees, parents have become directly involved in the development of other related activities at school.

Communities and parents have come to value the role of education and the pivotal part that school feeding plays in a stable school environment. Schools have become centers for parent and community activities. In many schools, there are ongoing income generating activities and parents are fully involved. Guided by the Ministry of Education, parents at all participating schools have embarked on projects to improve the school environment through tree planting activities and vegetable and flower gardens. Each family is expected to own and care for a tree in the school.

Food is a particularly special commodity in the drought-stricken arid and semi arid communities if Kenya and its provision in schools has increased the interest and involvement of parents in the education sector. Parent participation is a pre-requisite to the eventual ownership of the school feeding program and for its continuation after WFP assistance ends.


Final: Partnerships. MoEST, WFP, NGOs and parents initiated the expanded school feeding program as a joint effort. Their collaboration involved the development of a comprehensive training package for district education officers, headteachers and parents. NGOs transported food to schools while WFP and MoEST ensured that correct procedures were followed during the program’s implementation. School feeding program committees convened under the auspices of parent teacher associations (PTAs) and oversaw the storage and distribution of food at the school level. PTA leaders were signatories for the receipt of food.

Parents freely volunteered to build kitchens and stoves where they were non-existent.

WFP and the Ministry of Education undertook extensive joint school monitoring visits which enabled them to implement immediate interventions to address any problems that were identified in the schools.

Midterm: An annual average of 270,000 pre-primary and primary day and boarding students are fed. Food grants are provided to an average of 200 schools per year to undertake facility improvements and school feeding sustainability enterprises.

Lessons Learned

The Ministry of Education has been a reliable partner in reaching the most disadvantaged populations because of its network of schools throughout the country;

Food-for-work projects have relatively high overhead costs for the quantity of food delivered and are more cost-effective when integrated with other projects such as school feeding;

Women’s groups are a good entry point for community-based activities;

Greater partnership is required with other development partners, especially at the school and community levels; and

Integrated approaches are required to overcome constraints and increase girls’enrollment and achievement levels at primary schools.

GFE in Action

Final: In 2001, the school feeding program was introduced in the AIC Girl’s Boarding School in Kajiado District. The school is a "special" low-cost primary boarding school that serves "ostracized" Maasai girls who have, despite traditional barriers, chosen to attend school.

The school stands out in Kenya as an island of hope to girls growing up in difficult circumstances. The school depends on the good will of local and international donors to feed the girls and keep them in school, even during school holidays. The school headmistress, Mrs. Priscilla Nangurai, herself a Maasai and a national role model for girls from arid and semi arid districts, confirms that the availability of food at lunch time has made it possible for the school to enroll more disadvantaged girls.

"Do not forget that the Maasai girl is herself a mother at eight years old, fending for the family and preparing the family meal alongside her mother," she said. "Oftentimes, she eats last, with her mother, if anything at all remains. It has been terrible through this time of drought and I have felt pain in not being able to feed the few that have come to our school."

The deputy headmistress who also works on the school feeding program at the school confirms that the availability of lunch attracts more Maasai girls to the school and has stabilized student attendance.

The school community is proud of the sudden expansion in enrollment and the increase in the number of Maasai girls attending school. In 2002, total enrollment had reached 585, with 500 of the girls being from the Maasai community. The headmistress confided that while she is not a health expert, she has seen the health of her students improve.

"We have recently started enjoying a remark often made by outsiders and parents,"she said. "They tell us your girls look very healthy, what do you give them? This is a very satisfying remark for some of us who know what it means to sleep hungry and go to school hungry."

The program’s success can also be seen by looking at student performance levels.In 2001, 93% of the school’s girls passed their exams as compared to 66% in the previous year.

Midterm: In the Masai town of Kajiado, a teacher told visiting WFP officials that in 1995 there were only 98 students enrolled (64 boys and 34 girls) at the school. But with the introduction of school feeding, she said the number grew to 231 students in 1999 with 78 girls and 100 boys in the primary school and 21 girls and 32 boys in the pre-primary school.

In March of 2001 in Turkana, one of the poorest regions of Kenya, the Minister of Education reported that attendance increased by 130% for girls and 60% for boys within the school feeding program’s first year.


Last modified: Saturday, March 16, 2013 09:09:56 AM