USDA MGD Literacy and Child Nutrition Program in Cameroon Baseline

Implemented by Nascent Solutions, The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition project assists primary schools in four regions of Cameroon seeks to improve the literacy of school-age children and increase their use of good health and dietary practices. These regions suffer on average, moderate to severe food insecurity in more than 15% of households. A recent influx of conflict refugees from Nigeria and the CAR into the Adamawa, East and North regions, has further taxed the already meagre food supply of those regions. In 2017, around 450,000 children of school age (3 to 17 years) required humanitarian assistance in the East, Adamawa and North. Stunted growth, as a result of malnutrition is evident in up to 39% of children in some of these communities.

This chronic malnourishment severely impacts learning and academic success; obstacles compounded by endemic lack of school infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms where any classrooms are present, inadequate school materials and poor teacher training. Nascent’s implementation of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program seeks to significantly improve the literacy of school-age children through improved literacy instruction, student attentiveness, student attendance; and increase the use of positive health and dietary practices. The primary markers for action will be improving:

  • Quality of literacy instruction, through more consistent teacher attendance, provision of improved literacy and instructional materials, and training of teachers and administrators;
  • Student attentiveness, through the daily lunch program;
  • Student attendance, through school infrastructure improvements, enrollment outreaches, an increased community understanding of education benefits, and reducing health related absences;
  • Use of positive health and dietary practices, through increased knowledge of hygiene, safe food preparation, and nutrition, as well as increased access to clean water and sanitation, preventative health interventions, and provision of safe food preparation and storage items;
  • Education systems, through enhancing the capacity of local government and civil society, as well as local education- and nutrition-related policies.

The project will benefit 180,000 primary-level pupils, family members, teachers, administrators, civil servants, parent-teacher association members, and others associated with 265 primary schools across four regions (Adamawa, East, North, and Northwest) of Cameroon. The targeted schools include government-operated public schools, and private schools affiliated with the Baptist, Catholic, Islamic, and Presbyterian faiths. The 265 schools have more than 90,000 enrolled students and more than 1,200 teachers. Approximately 81% of the schools are in three French-speaking regions of Cameroon (Adamawa, East, and North), with the remainder in one English-speaking region (Northwest).

Nascent has convened a group of partners and stakeholders to ensure the success of the program, these include the Ministry of Basic Education, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Water and Energy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (AgReach Program), Caritas Kumbo, Michigan State University, and the International Literacy Society.