Nutrition Fuels Human Capital: Ghana’s School Feeding Programme

This delivery note examines the implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP). It particularly focuses on how Ghana fostered coordination among institutions and stakeholders, and how it adapted the program over time in response to evidence. 

From the mid-2000s through 2014, Ghana made significant gains in measures of human capital. The school enrollment rate rose and by 2011 had exceeded the world average. The likelihood that a 15-year-old child would survive to age 60 increased as well. One important step in Ghana’s effort to develop its human capital was the GSFP. This multi-sectoral program, initiated in 2005, had multiple objectives: it was a nutrition program, an education program, and a social safety net. 

The school feeding program had positive effects on learning outcomes in Ghana. Studies suggested these accomplishments resulted from the program’s positive impact on enrollment rates, grade attainment, and students devoting more time to their schooling. By 2017, the program served nearly 1.7 million students in 5,682 schools every school day, or approximately 30 percent of public-school students. 

Delivery Challenges

To achieve these results, the program had to overcome a number of delivery challenges, including:

  • Inter- and Intra-Governmental Coordination: The school feeding program was vulnerable to coordination problems because it required multiple government institutions to work together to achieve its goals. 
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Program success required strong engagement with stakeholders and beneficiaries, including schools, families, and farmers. 
  • Reporting and Supervision: Weaknesses that arose during program implementation demonstrated the need for a better monitoring and evaluation system and stronger performance incentives. 
  • Beneficiary Targeting: During the early years of implementation, challenges arose in delivering meals to the children most in need of assistance, requiring a new approach to targeting to ensure more equitable distribution of the program’s benefits.
  • Communication and Awareness Strategy: It was vital for the government to find a way to communicate the program’s value and increase transparency about its operations.

The program overcame these challenges through strategic adaptations, including increasing coordination with a variety of stakeholders; the introduction of stronger school-level monitoring tools; retargeting the program to reach the neediest areas using information collected by the World Bank from national poverty statistics, a food security and vulnerability analysis, and spatial data; working with local assemblies, traditional authorities, and civil society organizations; and increasing dissemination of information about the program to the public. 

Lessons from Implementation 

Ghana’s strategy for its school feeding program demonstrates how countries can overcome frequently encountered delivery challenges that arise when they are implementing measures to enhance human capital. In particular, the GSFP offers lessons about coordination and evidence-gathering, two key aspects of the whole-of-government approach to human capital development.

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