The Primary School Nutrition Programme (PSNP) : assessing the allocation of funding in KwaZulu Natal, 1995/96.
Mabuza, Lindiwe Olivia Khumbuzile.
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The Government of National Unity's (GNU) desire to eliminate socio-economic imbalances inherited from the apartheid era resulted in the creation ofthe Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) which outlines principles and strategies for development in key areas. One such area is nutrition; in this regard President Mandela enacted the Primary School Nutrition Programme (PSNP) to provide one third of the minimum daily food intake for primary school children, where the need existed. The PSNP was launched on the 1st of September 1994 following the announcement of the start of the programme by the President in his State of the Nation Address on 24 May 1994. Prior to the establishment of the PSNP, the National Nutrition and Social Development Programme (NNSDP) was addressing malnutrition, targeting pre-school children and pregnant and nursing mothers. Initiated without a carefully planned strategy and clearly defined roles for the national and provincial offices, the NNSDP and its successor, the PSNP were, and remain, far from successful. In 1996 the Health Systems Trust (HST) and the Department of Health (DoH) held a workshop intended to build a framework for evaluating the PSNP. The evaluation of the PSNP was prompted by the fact that direct nutrition interventions in South Africa account for about 7% of the public health budget which in monetary terms is a considerable amount. It remains dubious whether this money is being spent efficiently and appropriately. Further, the evaluation of the programme is a result of severe criticism from all fronts of society as fraud has become apparent in the various government departments within the provinces. In KwaZulu Natal, extensive fraud has occurred, where cases of non-existent schools and teachers have, for example, been discovered on the list of beneficiaries of the PSNP. The aim of this study is to form a component of the HST and DoH evaluation of the PSNP through investigating how the allocation of funding has been conducted in KwaZulu Natal, and, if this is found to be inappropriate, to provide recommendations for improved allocation . of funds. To find out more about allocation procedures in KwaZulu Natal, key informants from the Department of Health were interviewed and their responses were analysed to expose problems with the targeting and allocation of funding at the various levels of government. Further, data obtained from the KwaZulu Natal Department of Health in Durban were analysed using a sample taken from the final financial quarter ofthe year 1995/96. These data showed the amount of PSNP funds advanced to ,each school compared with the amount of funding which was accounted for, as per the procedures for the implementation of the programme. Judging from the results obtained, the use of allocated funds for the PSNP in KwaZulu Natal has not been successful in 80% of cases in the ten Magisterial Districts assessed. In educational terms, there may be a role for a programme such as the PSNP - providing pupils with enough food to enable them to be more alert and active in the school environment whereas in nutritional terms, this appears to be less the case. Improving nutrition status is much more feasible when programmes are targeted at the very young and pre-school children. Lack of targeting in KwaZulu Natal has contributed to limited success of the PSNP as a nutrition tool. In the light of the evaluation undertaken in this study, it is proposed that targeting younger, pre-school children is an attractive alternative for future nutrition-based interventions and more development-based approaches, rather than the "food hand-outs" which appear to characterise the PSNP.