Sida is supporting the one-year pilot programme Milk for Schools in Zambia in partnership with the food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak, the World Food Programme, the Zambian government and local stakeholders.

Sida is supporting the one-year pilot programme Milk for Schools in Zambia in partnership with the food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak, the World Food Programme, the Zambian government and local stakeholders.

Photo: Tetra Pak

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Milk increases school attendance in Zambia

Published: 11 October 2012 Updated: 25 June 2014

Thanks to the Milk for Schools programme, school attendance has increased in Zambia’s Nyimba district and local smallholder farmers have found a new market for their products. The programme is the result of a private-public partnership between Sida and the food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak.

Zambia has one of the lowest milk consumption rates in sub-Saharan Africa at less than ten litres per capita per year. The price of milk in Zambia is high compared to neighbouring countries, which indicates that there is a lack of competition. Most of the milk is produced by a few large-scale farmers with more than 700 cows, while small-scale farmers have difficulties reaching the market with their products.

At the same time, chronic malnutrition is a major problem affecting 45 percent of all children. Malnutrition doesn’t only affect their health but also their ability to learn.

To contribute to economic growth in rural areas while also improving the health status and school attendance of children, Sida is supporting the one-year pilot programme Milk for Schools in Zambia in partnership with the food processing and packaging solutions company Tetra Pak, the World Food Programme, the Zambian government and local stakeholders.

As part of the project, students in 39 schools in the Nyimba district in eastern Zambia receive 250 millilitres of milk three times a week and all the milk comes from local smallholder dairy farmers. Since the programme started, school attendance in the district has increased from 15,000 to 18,000 students.

 “So far the project has exceeded expectations by a mile, I never thought school attendance would increase by this much”, said Maria Stridsman, project manager at Sida.

The milk is served on different days each week to ensure that children don’t skip school on days when they know there won’t be any milk. A unique school milk package has been designed to ensure that the milk pack will not be sold in the commercial market.

Tetra Pak, which has been involved with school milk projects around the world since the 1960s, contributes with know-how and technical assistance and will help develop a model that can be rolled out across the country. The company doesn’t make any money directly from the programme, but hopes to foster new habits and create a new market for their dairy customer’s products.

 “We hope that the programme will lead to an increase in milk consumption in Zambia. As children are accustomed to drinking milk they will encourage their parents to buy milk and as adults they might also serve milk to their children”, said Katarina Eriksson, senior project and partnership development manager at Tetra Laval Food for Development Office.

As part of the programme, small dairy farmers have been given support in development of their milk production. Milk can be an important source of income for rural communities. Since it is often sold on a daily basis, milk creates a regular revenue stream and allows the farmers to improve their livelihoods. A family with two milking cows can make four to six US dollars per day.

The programme has not been evaluated yet but so far the indications are very positive, according to Maria Stridsman.

 “The smallholder farmers have been able to deliver all the milk needed in the programme successfully and they have also been able to scale up their production”, she said.

Due to the positive results Sida will prolong the programme for another year. The Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has decided to start a similar government funded programme in another district. Also private schools have taken an interest in the project and are planning a milk programme paid for by parents.

The Zambia Milk for Schools programme is part of Sida’s new Public-Private Partnership programme, which allows joint financing between Sida and private companies. The total budget for the pilot programme is one million US dollars, of which Sida has contributed 50 percent and Tetra Pak and its partners the remaining 50 percent.

Zambia pilot school milk programme

Public Private Partnership. Tetra Pak in cooperation with the World Food Programme
Partners: the Zambian Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development, the World Food Programme, Tetra Pak and PROFIT, a non-governmental organization active in Zambia in the small scale milk sector.

The project was implemented 2011-2012. It included three months of pre-implementation and project preparations followed by 11 months of project implementation and two to three months of follow up and reporting.

The objectives for the project are:
(i) Create the basis for improved nutritional status among Zambian school children, thereby have a positive impact on health, school attendance and educational performance;
(ii) Improve rural income through a better functioning smallholder milk producing sector, driven by increased demand of quality milk created through the school milk programme.

One of the major expected outcomes is: One year of school-feeding 250 ml milk per day 3 times a week for 13000 school children. 

Sida’s contribution amounts to 514 000 USD (3,5 million SEK) corresponding of 50 percent of total project cost.



Page owner: Department for Africa

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