MCA queries Sakaja's school feeding programme

In the first budget for 2023-24, Sh1.2 billion towards the feeding programme.

In Summary

•The first phase of the school feeding program kicked off last month targeting 81, 208 school children in 45 selected schools.

•In the statement, the Gatina MCA wants the Health committee to  inquire into and report on the management and operations of the school feeding program.

Dishi na County lunch is served to students at Raila Education Centre on September 19, 2023.
Dishi na County lunch is served to students at Raila Education Centre on September 19, 2023.

A Nairobi MCA is seeking to know how finance matters for the 'Dishi na County' school feeding programme are being handled.

The initiative by Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja seeks to provide lunch for public primary school children at a subsidised cost of Sh5 per meal.

Gatina MCA Kennedy Swaka has questioned why the county executive is charging Sh5 per pupil for each meal, yet stakeholders have pumped in millions of shillings to sustain the programme.

"This is a matter of great concern with respect to accountability for the funds collected since such collections are not backed by any known policy or legal framework," Swaka said.

The first phase of the school feeding programme started last month targeting 81,208 children in 45 selected public primary schools.

The Gatina MCA wants the county health committee to inquire into and report on the management and operations of the feeding programme.

The committee is also expected to reveal whether the county executive has put in place any guidelines, legal or policy framework to legitimise the collection of Sh5 per child per day.

"The committee should inquire on whether the said special feeding fund bank account was opened and who are the account signatories," he said.

The health committee should also report on whether there are any private partners supporting the county to implement the programme. 

Swaka said if there are any, they should be furnished with a memorandum of understanding and a report on how much has been donated this far and how the donations have been utilised.

"The committee should reveal the role of the Food4Education organisation in the implementation of the school feeding programme," the statement read.

The committee has also been tasked to provide reasons for delayed delivery of food to various schools leading to children taking lunch past 1pm.

The MCA also seeks answers on the measures the county executive has put in place to ensure the school feeding programme regulations are submitted to the county assembly for ratification.

On April 19, 2023, the county assembly passed a motion approving the opening of a school feeding fund bank account to support the implementation of Sakaja's initiative.

In the said motion, the finance executive was urged to develop and submit to the county assembly regulations to govern the programme.

However, the MCAs have not yet received any information on whether this was implemented.

Governor Sakaja said the project is part of a vision he had for years.

He said the programme will ensure the provision of a daily nutritionally balanced hot meal for all children in public primary schools and public early childhood development centres.

In his first budget for 2023-24, Sakaja allocated Sh1.2 billion towards the feeding programme.

Some Sh500 million was allocated to building seven more kitchens and the rest to subsidise the cost of a plate for each child.

Last month, Governor Sakaja signed an intergovernmental partnership agreement with the national government on the implementation of a school meal plan in Nairobi.

The Sh1.7 billion agreement sets forth the terms of understanding between the parties in the implementation of the school meals programme in public primary schools in Nairobi.

Ten central kitchens for the programme have been under construction since June ahead of the launch.

They are located in Dagoretti North, Embakasi Central, Embakasi South, Kasarani, Kibra, Makadara, Starehe, Roysambu, Ruaraka, and Westlands subcounties.

They are being constructed in Baba Dogo Primary School, Bidii Primary School, Kwa Njenga Primary, Farasi Lane Primary, Muthangari Primary, Kayole One Primary, Njiru Primary, Toi Primary, Roysambu Primary and Racecourse Primary.

Health executive Susan Silantoi said most of the kitchens are almost complete, while some are ready.

For the staff, the CEC said at least 1,500 people will be contracted and the county targets guardians and parents of the beneficiary pupils.

"We are targeting to have parents and guardians because these are the people who know how to handle children and they will be paid as per the contract," she said.

Parents and guardians have been told to ensure their children carry a plate and a spoon for their meals.

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