Like Many African countries, Malawi experiences low enrolment in the primary school due to, among other things, poverty. Most families fail to provide the basic necessities to school going children. Despite government’s efforts through offering free primary education-like the case in Malawi- children usually go to school on an empty stomach. This affects their learning and subsequently acts as a catalyst for absenteeism which is later followed by high dropout rates.

To address this, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) through the 2008 School Health and Nutrition Strategy (SHN), advocates for the provision of school meals with an aim of reducing dropouts and at the same time, improving the nutritional well-being of the children. Since then, a lot of organizations have supported government’s efforts on such through provision of the school meals materials. Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD), a local NGO, is one of such organizations which, through donor funds, has for the past decade been involved in the school meals program. Currently, FISD is working with JTI through the ARISE program, in implementing the Irrigated School Gardens for Sustainable School Meals Project (ISGSSMP).

Currently, the project is being implemented in three countries namely Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. Malawi alone has 12 schools in three districts. Dowa has two schools (Mlengwe and Manthimba), Lilongwe has five schools (Malikha, Mnkhupa, Kanthonga, Mnchemani and Chiponde) and Ntcheu has five schools as well (Dauka, Kampanje, Livulezi, Muuso and Ganya). Zambia has seven Schools (Chikomeni, Mwita, St. Margret, Vizenge, Lukusuzi, Mphomwa and Diwa).

In this project, schools own gardens on which they plant crops watered either by rains or irrigation. At first, they would grow maize and the harvests were being used in the preparation of school meals but the project has now gone commercial i.e. the schools are being urged to grow high value cash crops so that the proceeds should be used in purchasing school meals materials.

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