Endogenous canteens in primary schools

Endogenous canteens in primary schools

The endogenous canteen project is part of the food-based social safety net programme, and involves the community taking charge of feeding pupils locally. The parents’ food (or financial) contribution makes it possible to continue to feed the children at school for at least an extra two months a year, thus helping to keep the pupils in school and improve their nutritional health and academic performance.


In 1988, the American NGO Catholic Relief Service (CRS), the main provider of meals for primary school children in Burkina Faso, adopted a new targeted plan to focus on areas with very low school enrolment and food insecurity. The Burkinabe authorities picked up the project from there and created a nationwide school canteen service. The Department for the Allocation of Specific Resources to Educational Structures (DAMSSE) is responsible for managing school canteens. In particular, it is responsible for purchasing and transporting food to schools in the targeted intervention areas. In 2012, the government of Burkina Faso adopted its first National Social Protection Policy (PNPS), which provided for the “Equipping all schools and pre-school education structures with school canteens” in 2015 (Priority Action 6 of Programme 2). Despite the progress achieved, this ambitious and costly goal remains only partially accomplished. For example, the government has transferred almost XOF 19 billion (29 million euros) to 316 communes (~3 million pupils) to buy food for school canteens. Despite this substantial budget, the food provided by the State covers only three months of cooking needs. Moreover, the choice of food is generally not very diversified (rice: 75%; beans: 17.5%; oil: 7.5%). In light of this shortcoming, the Ministry of National Education and Literacy (MENA) has encouraged the establishment of endogenous canteens. The aim is to make the canteens autonomous by improving the supply of school canteens through an internal and local development strategy based on strong community participation.


Endogenous canteens rely on the participation of parents to feed their children at school. Through the School Management Committee (COGES) and the Parents’ Association (APE), the parents themselves determine the quantities of food and the arrangements for collection. The quantities of cereals to be brought by schoolchildren vary from one school to another across the regions and mainly concern cowpea, millet, sorghum, maize and groundnuts. At the beginning of the school year after the harvests (October/November), parents either take from their stores the amount of food to be provided based on the number of their children attending school or make a financial contribution.

To make the endogenous canteens more operational and autonomous, the communities are also developing fields and growing school gardens. Until 2011, the creation of an endogenous canteen was a prerequisite of government provision of food to schools (usually in the second term). The schools had to run themselves from October to December. Since 2011, the government has been providing food directly to schools without requiring proof that they are collecting food.


At present, there are endogenous canteens in practically all schools in rural Burkina Faso thanks to the generalisation of School Management Committees. According to DAMSSE estimates in 2017, endogenous canteens represents 10% of the total volume of the school canteen service to pupils in Burkina Faso. Endogenous canteens make it possible to feed pupils in schools for an additional two months, depending on the motivation of each community.


  • Gives pupils access to the education system and keeps them enrolled, especially children who live far from their school
  • Better nutritional health of children through a more diversified diet
  • Improved academic results



Success factors

  • Motivation/buy-in of populations
  • Good collaboration between local actors (parents’ associations, teachers, etc.)
  • Dynamism of the school management teams
  • Functional management committees
  • Transparency in food and administrative management
  • Follow-up inspections (basic education catchment area)


  • Management difficulties: insufficient logistical resources, delays in opening canteens, failure of some suppliers, etc.
  • Finding space for producing crops and vegetables in the school
  • Availability of drinking water in schools
  • Training/awareness raising of local actors

Lessons learned

  • The involvement of parents’ associations and local municipalities helps to improve the functioning of the canteens
  • Teacher engagement facilitates community buy-in
  • The existence of large school estates facilitates the development of fields and growing of school gardens
  • The endogenous canteen promotes local products
  • The organisation of endogenous canteens strengthens the spirit of solidarity in the community



The practice of endogenous canteens is widespread in Burkina Faso. The logistical management still needs to be improved, however. To this end, DAMSSE/MENA has drawn up a guide for actors involved in the management of school canteens. The guide proposes good practices in four areas: 1) resource mobilisation; 2) food procurement processes; 3) management of food stocks; and 4) monitoring and control of food management. Many other countries in the region have similar systems in place. The lessons learned from these various programmes could be extensively shared through the School Management Committees in the different regions of Burkina Faso, and even more widely across Sahelian and West African countries.


Ministère de l’éducation, de l’alphabétisation et la promotion des langues nationales
Ministère de l’action sociale et de la solidarité nationale ; Collectivités territoriales et locales




Mr Daouda Belem, Coordinator of the school canteen project, DAMSSE


  • Burkina Faso


  • Education
  • Food security & zero hunger
  • Health
  • Local actors & livelihoods
  • Nutrition
  • Social affairs & social protection
  • Youth


  • Poor households
  • Youth

Agir Pillars

  • Pillar 1: Improve social protection for the most vulnerable communities and households in order to secure their livelihoods
  • Pillar 2: Strengthen the nutrition of vulnerable households


  • Local
  • National

Sustainable development goals

SDG 1 SDG 2 SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 10