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New porridge programme to benefit 600,000 students

The National Commission for Nomadic Education Kenya (NACONEK), in conjunction with agro-based organisations, is piloting the provision of enriched porridge to 600,000 lower-grade learners in 66 sub-counties in ASAL regions and nine informal urban settlements.

The programme is in nine urban slums, Special Needs education, and drought intervention sub-counties in the country.

The programme is funded by the Government through the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK) and also with support from five Partners in agro-based businesses.

The learners are from nine urban slums and Drought Intervention subcounties mainly from Arid and Semi-Arid regions in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer of Naconek, Mr. Harun Yusuf, said the porridge is being given as part of the School Meals Programme (SMP) as a midmorning snack to learners in grades 1, 2, and 3 since this is a crucial age for growth and development for children.

Mr. Yusuf made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by the Principal Education Officer, Ms. Beatrice Ooko, at Mwangaza Primary School in Isiolo Township in Isiolo County last Friday.

Also present were the Managing Director of Tetra Pak, Jonathan Kinisu; the Regional Managing Director of Ingredion, Kennedy Ouma; the Director of Unibrain, Mr. Oscar Mariesco; and officials from DSM Nutritional Products and Jetlack Food Limited, which support the fortified porridge programme.

The Chief Executive Officer said the Pilot for the ready-to-drink porridge is currently being done in the three counties of Isiolo, Samburu, and Garissa, and after a review of the results, a possible scale will be done.

He added that porridge enhances learners access to school and also promotes their cognitive development, therefore enhancing their performance.

He said the porridge programme for learners in lower grades was in addition to the SMP, under which all learners in primary school in the ASAL areas and informal settlements in nine urban centres receive food rations as part of the government’s policy of access and retention in school.

Mr. Yusuf said SMP provides four food commodities: cereals at 150g per child per day, pulses at 40 g per child per day, vegetable oil at 5 g per child per day, and salt at 2g per child per day.

He said porridge is the fifth commodity in the food basket and is being provided in a 250 ml packet per child per day.

By Kennedy Buhere

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