Dubai Cares, the UAE-based philanthropic organization founded in 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, today launched a 4-year Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) program in Ghana which will improve the education, health and nutrition of over 320,000 primary school aged children and the livelihoods of over 80,000 rural households.
With the launch of this program, Dubai Cares is now reaching over 7 million children in 28 developing countries with its comprehensive primary education programs.
Commenting on Dubai Cares’ achievement, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, said: “In 2007, Dubai Cares was launched with the belief, held by HH Sheikh Mohammed, that education is the most effective tool to break the cycle of poverty and a desire to give children, regardless of their nationality, creed or religion, the opportunity to become positive contributors to society. Today, because of the guidance of His Highness, who inspired us to design innovative solutions to development challenges, and our holistic programmatic approach, Dubai Cares is reaching over 7 million children in 28 developing countries with primary education programs that are making a difference in the lives of children and their communities.”
He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to, on behalf of everyone at Dubai Cares, thank the UAE community for playing an important role in making all this possible. And, as we celebrate together this accomplishment, we should be reminded that our mission is far from over – 69 million children around the world still do not go to school.”
The program, which is receiving approximately AED10 million (USD2.7 million) in funding from Dubai Cares, will be implemented by the philanthropic organization with Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and will support the Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP), a poverty reduction initiative launched in 2005 by the Ghanaian government.
The Dubai Cares program was launched through an official event in Ghana attended by a Dubai Cares delegation led by Al Gurg, representatives from the local government and several international organizations including Ghana School Feeding Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Food Program, World Bank and SNV.
Speaking at the launch event, Al Gurg said: “This program is based on the principle that healthy children learn better. Homegrown school feeding programs, which are part of Dubai Cares’ holistic and integrated school health and nutrition programs, have shown to improve children’s regular school attendance as well as their cognitive learning through healthier and nutritious food intake. On a global level, these interventions are helping developing countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals related to primary education.”
The Homegrown School Feeding program represents a sustainable and integrated alternative to providing school meals to children while supporting economic activity in rural areas.
Al Gurg added: “This program will not only benefit school children, but marginal rural communities as well since the commodities required for producing the nutritious meals for school children will be procured from local farmers. This creates a self-sustaining cycle in which students receive the nutrition they need and household incomes increase.”
Dr. Lesley Drake, Executive Director, Partnership for Child Development (PCD), said: "This generous support from Dubai Cares to Ghana will make a real difference to the health, nutrition and education of school aged children and the communities in which they live. The GSFP provides an excellent example of good practice and this funding will undoubtedly strengthen the platform for sustainable Home Grown School Feeding Programs across the continent”.
"We are delighted to have worked with Dubai Cares over the past two years to determine where our mutual investments can have the greatest impact," said Arlene Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This program is an outgrowth of our collaboration, one which we believe will have a real impact on the lives of children, as well as smallholder farmers."
The Dubai Cares program will also focus on ensuring the program’s sustainability by improving the in-country management capacity and promote more cost effective delivery systems that can result in increased program efficiency over the long term. This combination of effective delivery and increased capacity will enable the program to be scaled up in the future.