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School feeding, moving from practice to policy: reflections on building sustainable monitoring and evaluation systems

Gelli, Aulo, Espejo, Francisco
Public health nutrition 2013 v.16 no.6 pp. 995-999
children, data collection, education, issues and policy, monitoring, problem solving, stakeholders, Sub-Saharan Africa
To provide an overview of the status of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of school feeding across sub-Saharan Africa and to reflect on the experience on strengthening M&E systems to influence policy making in low-income countries. Literature review on the M&E of school feeding programmes as well as data from World Food Programme surveys. Sub-Saharan Africa. Countries implementing school feeding. Only two randomized controlled impact evaluations have been implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. Where M&E data collection is underway, the focus is on process and service delivery and not on child outcomes. M&E systems generally operate under the Ministry of Education, with other Ministries represented within technical steering groups supporting implementation. There is no internationally accepted standardized framework for the M&E of school feeding. There have been examples where evidence of programme performance has influenced policy: considering the popularity of school feeding these cases though are anecdotal, highlighting the opportunity for systemic changes. There is strong buy-in on school feeding from governments in sub-Saharan Africa. In response to this demand, development partners have been harmonizing their support to strengthen national programmes, with a focus on M&E. However, policy processes are complex and can be influenced by a number of factors. A comprehensive but simple approach is needed where the first step is to ensure a valid mandate to intervene, legitimizing the interaction with key stakeholders, involving them in the problem definition and problem solving. This process has been facilitated through the provision of technical assistance and exposure to successful experiences through South–South cooperation and knowledge exchange.