Sekela Kalinga, 29 and Zulfa Said, 19 are Girl Powered Nutrition Advocacy Champions based in the town of Lindi in Tanzania. They took part in advocacy training in November 2018, and it was here that they developed their advocacy action plan - lobbying for the provision of food in schools.
“We decided we needed to meet with regional leaders to get our plan into action!”
And they did just that, managing to arrange a meeting in December 2018 with the Lindi Regional Commissioner, the Hon. Godfrey Zambi.
Zulfa describes what happened at the meeting, “We wanted to meet with him, to talk to him about our campaign and explain why it was important for the Government at the regional level to get involved and improve girls’ nutrition. We explained the consequences of iron deficiency anaemia on girls and our community. We had done some research to find out more the situation in schools in Lindi and realised most schools were not providing meals. We presented these findings to the Regional Commissioner.”
In January 2019, the Regional Commissioner called a meeting with all district educational officers and some heads of schools in the region and ordered them to seriously consider providing food to students at their schools.
While some schools started to provide food, Sekela and Zulfa saw that this was not the case across all local schools. So, undeterred, they took their concerns back to their Regional Commissioner.
“We were there on 12 April, the final day of ‘Wiki ya Elimu’ (Education Week) at the Ilulu grounds in Lindi and again we talked to the Regional Commissioner and presented to him the need for students to get food in schools”, Sekela explains.
Their persistence paid off. During his ‘Wiki ya Elimu’ closing speech, the Hon. Godfrey Zambi, not only paid tribute to the Girl Guides but directed all schools to start proving meals.
“Girl Guides are raising awareness about good nutrition for girls and they have helped us to understand how poor nutrition could impact performance at school. I’m today giving directive to all schools to start proving meals to students with immediate effect.”
This was an amazing achievement, but for Sekela and Zulfa it’s not the end of their advocacy work. They will continue to monitor the school situation and keep pressing for progress in their fight for Girl Powered Nutrition.