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25.01.2007 General News

Amoako Tuffour warns unproductive DCE

Amoako Tuffour warns unproductive DCE
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The Executive Director of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), Dr Kwame Amoako Tuffour, on Wednesday warned he and his team would not countenance District Chief Executives whose attitude hampered the programme.

"It has come to our notice that some DCEs sit on cheques we issue to them for the School Feeding Programme while others give moneys meant for the programme to people, who are not qualified in anyway to implement the programme," he said.

Dr Tuffour said in fairness to the school children and qualified persons, who are expected to benefit from the programme, "I and my team would not countenance such recalcitrant and counterproductive behaviour from any DCE."

He gave the warning after he had taken a team of foreign researchers operating under the name Ghana Agricultural Initiative Network (GAIN) on a familiarization tour of a school in Dodowa in the Dangme West District, where the programme was being implemented.

GAIN comprises researchers from Universities of Colombia and California in the United States, Wagningen University in the Netherlands and Agro Forestry Centre of Nairobi in Kenya.

The researchers were with representatives of the UN Hunger Taskforce, an organization set up within the UN to implement the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve hunger levels by 2015, and of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

The team would familiarize itself with the GSFP, with the view to raising funds, especially from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support local farmers in the districts to enable them to sustain the programme and also to assist cooks and nutritionists to provide nutritious menus for pupils.

Dr Tuffour noted that the GSFP was the best in Africa and one of the best in the world, adding that if it was going to be sustained in the long term, the DCEs needed to be more proactive and fair to the programme by applying the funds for the programme properly, instead of playing politics with it.

He praised the Dangme West DCE, Mr Michael T. A. Nortey for his commitment to the programme, saying that it was commendable that Mr Nortey and his team had built kitchens and provided several giant poly-tank water reservoirs to all the schools captured in his District.

"This man even uses his own deep freezer to preserve perishable foods meant for the programme - this is what we need to make the programme succeed," he said.

Mr Nortey told journalists that out of the 102 schools in the entire District, only eight schools, all located in the Dodowa township were captured in the programme, adding that the Government had a long way to go to make the impact of the programme well felt in the districts.

He said since the feeding programme started, it had attracted some school dropouts back to school, while some persons living outside the Dodowa township have posted their children to their relatives in Dodowa to enable the children attend schools where they could be fed freely.

"This situation coupled with the inadequate infrastructure of the schools is putting some amount of pressure on the schools and on the feeding programme," he said.

Mr Nortey said the eight schools captured had 1,500 pupils and each pupil was served with 3,000 cedis worth of balanced diet daily adding that the assembly usually bought maize and other food items from farmers in the District as a way of helping them to also benefit from the programme.

"Currently we are working on pooling some farmers and plots of land to start a District School Farms to help to sustain the feeding programme," he said.

Mr Chris Jones, a member of the GAIN Team told the Ghana News Agency that the team had already presented a pre-proposal note to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation requesting for $10 million to support the GSFP.

He said the main focus of the Team was how the programme empowered local farmers, nutrition for mothers and infants and also the impact of the feeding programme on school attendance levels.

"Since the representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are here with us, we trust that they would satisfy themselves with what they have seen and consider our proposal favourably when we present it after this tour, which would last for only a couple of days," he said.

A visit to the Methodist Basic One Primary School saw some 250 pupils in separate queues taking their plates of 'wakye' (rice and beans) with eggs and sauce, prepared by a local caterer, Flashy Foods Catering.

Source GNA