The Vegetables Go to School project was implemented by national task forces composed of representatives from the core ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture, to improve the nutritional status of school aged children. With teachers and parents playing a major role, school vegetable gardens, aligned with water, sanitation and hygiene measures, were planted. Children aged six to sixteen were provided lectures on nutrition and hygiene, and became actively engaged in gardening. The Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, together with the World Vegetable Centre and the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, conducted operational research with local academic partners, particularly on effects of integrated interventions on the health and nutritional status of the participating school children.
Policy Workshops for Wider Implementation
After five years of project implementation, national policy workshops were organized in all five countries. During this time scientific evidence was presented to a large audience on the benefit of interlinked nutrition and hygiene interventions targeting school aged children and their immediate families. The policy workshops engaged national leadership. Policy makers were able to sign commitment statements in support of the wider implementation of the programme in other cities or districts. As an example, two Bhutan ministers (Agriculture and Education) signed a commitment statement, including the promise of further carrying out the programme appropriately and sustainably in the country’s institutional landscape.
The project generated multi-sectorial policy briefs calling for further national and institutional collaboration in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With this project, SDC supported the ‘Sustainable Nutrition’ portfolio, focusing on promoting sustainable diversification of agriculture and multi-sectorial interventions.