School at Nosy Be, Madagascar
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Better Food for Kids

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2016

Vegetable gardens in school yards

The City of Antananarivo’s Better Food for Kids program provides school children, especially those from vulnerable families, with nutritional school meals by establishing vegetable gardens in school yards. Better Food for Kids directly benefits the health and wellbeing of young people and helps to increase school retention rate and improve children’s ability to learn. The initiative is supported by the AULNA (Urban Agriculture Low Space and No Space) program, local plant nurseries and citizens.

Sustainable Development Goals

End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Guangzhou Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Guangzhou Award' in 2020.

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Size and population development
The Madagascar Data Portal records the 2018 population for Antananarivo as 1,275,207. The city covers an area of 86.04 km2 with a population density of 15,000 people per km2. Rural migration fuels population growth.

Population composition
Madagascar's population is predominantly of mixed Asian and African origin. Ethnic groups include Malayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo) people, Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry—Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, and Comoran. 2010 data records 85% of the population identify as Christians – 45.8% as Protestants and 38.1% as Catholic. Malagasy and French are the official languages, and some English is spoken. The Malagasy language is of Malayo-Polynesian origin, and shares much of its basic vocabulary with the Maanyan language from southern Borneo.

Main functions
Antananarivo is the capital and largest city of Madagascar. It was known by its French name Tananarive or the colonial shorthand form Tana until 1977. The city is situated 1,280m above seas level in the Central Highlands of Madagascar. Madagascar is the second largest island country in the world and is the home of five percent of the world's plant and animal species, 80 percent of which are unique to Madagascar. Among its most notable examples of biodiversity are the Lemur infraorder of primates, three endemic bird families and six endemic baobab species.

Main industries / business
The economy of Madagascar is overwhelmingly agricultural, largely of a subsistence type. The principal crops are coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves and cocoa. The main food crops are rice, cassava, bananas, beans and peanuts. In addition, large numbers of poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and hogs and raised. Fishing and forestry are also important. The city of Antananarivo is set in a rice-growing region. Industries process food products, tobacco, and manufacture textiles and leather goods. Tourism, which targets the eco-tourism market, capitalizing on Madagascar's unique biodiversity, unspoiled natural habitats, and lemur species, is a growth industry.

Political structure
The Republic of Madagascar has a presidency, a parliament (national assembly and senate), a prime ministry and cabinet, and an independent judiciary that are based in Antananarivo. The public directly elects the president and the 127 members of the National Assembly to five-year terms. All 33 members of the Senate serve six-year terms, with 22 senators elected by local officials and 11 appointed by the president.

Administrative structure
At the local level, the island's 22 regions are administered by a governor and provincial council. The Regions are further subdivided into 119 districts, and 1579 communes. The judiciary is modelled on the French system, with a High Constitutional Court, High Court of Justice, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, criminal tribunals, and tribunals of first instance. The "Urban Community of Antananarivo," is divided into six arrondissements.

Currently, the municipality of Antananarivo manages under its tutelage 94 public primary schools.

For two years, the municipality of Antananarivo signed the Pact of Milan and used the framework of indicators of the Pact to develop urban food policies specific to Antananarivo.

The Better Food for Kids program commenced in the canteens of public primary schools. The initiative forms part of the Mayor's five-year program entitled "Veliranon’Iarivo", the first point which addresses the "Well-being of the population".

The objectives of the program are:

  • better nutrition for primary school students
  • increase in school retention rate
  • agricultural education for children
  • health and well-being and income-generating activities for vulnerable community
  • improved quality of life with economic and environmental sustainability
  • social integration of vulnerable community, including participation in the waste management of the city

The municipality has adopted an integrated approach involving education, agriculture, waste management, nutrition and health. Through the AULNA method, recycled objects and materials such as drums, piping, etc, are used and repurposed into agricultural plots. Guidebooks and the use of new technology such as the creation of a mobile application will help with the learning and sharing of information about urban agriculture between the municipality and community.

The Municipality of Antananarivo is in charge of students and staff for agricultural training. It is also providing the implementation materials for the vegetable gardens in the schoolyards. In a first step, the school children are given training programs. The municipality agents are there to guide the implementation while the primary school students are participating. In a second step, trainings are offered to parents and the broader community so they can activate and maintain cultivated spaces in their locality.

The training of all stakeholders assures the sustainability of the vegetable gardens.

The initiative involves both a public-private and a public-community partnership. The Municipality has already started a public-private partnership with a company which capital will finance six showcase sites in public primary schools. While the company finances the works, the municipality helps for the technical side and the establishment of the public-community partnership.

The Municipality is actively trying to involve private companies in the initiative. The funds raised are used mainly for the purchase of the materials necessary for the establishment of vegetable gardens and a small part for the promotion of actions realized. Human resources are provided by the Municipality and include a dedicated social worker, agricultural engineer, gardener etc.

The indicators required to assess the change are:

  • number of beneficiaries,
  • school drop-out rate,
  • school success rate,
  • harvest quantity,
  • number of balanced dishes served in canteens,
  • waste volume,
  • quantity of recycled items used

The measurements are collected by Municipal agents, teaching staff and parents of school students. The collected data is analysed by Municipal staff to monitor the progress of the initiative.

In 2016, the initiative directly benefited 16,096 students and vulnerable families. In 2020, 6000 school children were beneficiaries of the program. In 2021-2022, the target is to reach all primary school students, a total of 50,000 children.

Waste recovery and recycling help in fertilization and implementation of the vegetable gardens. Plus, the initiative is transforming urban uncultivated spaces to gardens which provide locally produced food.

Every year, the municipality welcomes around of 50,000 children in the public primary school system, however, the dropout and failure rate is quite high due to child malnutrition.

Even though the Municipality has the human and technical resources required to support the program, the lack of funding is an obstacle.  The decision was made to look for financial partners and there is a public-private partnership in place that currently supports six public primary schools. The Municipality is working towards securing more partnerships to reach the goal of including the 94 public primary schools in the program.  

Educational programs on agriculture and the environment for teaching staff and the community are essential. With training, experiences and books provided by the Municipality, participants can further educate themselves in their own time. Easy access to necessary and new information is assured by the mobile application which is updated regularly.

Combining urban agriculture and waste management in food production is possible. The initiative relies on waste recovery and recycling. From organic waste, compost is made to fertilize the crops. From waste recycling, used materials (rice bag, wooden pallet, etc.) are repurposed and used as farming containers. Additionally, using small spaces in the schoolyards for short cycle agriculture contributes to provide fresh and nutritious food for canteens.

Sharing program information and the lessons learned will be possible with the mobile application that is being further developed. The Municipality is also considering hosting seminars and webinars to further expand the learnings with other communities and cities.

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