Use of renewable energy to enhance sustainability of the mid-day meal program in schools
Children in government schools in Karnataka, India are provided cooked mid-day meals under the 'Akshara Dasoha' scheme. The aim of this initiative is to provide a nutritious meal to school children (who mostly hail from the lower economic strata) to enhance their nutritional status and as an incentive to minimize dropouts. However, cooking these meals have numerous bottlenecks including irregular supply of cooking fuel i.e. liquid petroleum gas (LPG) resulting in widespread use of firewood, which is burnt inefficiently and use of a single variety of vegetable due to frequent price fluctuations.
A comprehensive and replicable concept that was aimed at demonstrating the use of environmentally sustainable renewable energy device for cooking, raising an energy plantation and growing a bio-intensive school garden to address the above issues was pilot tested in three rural primary schools in the semi-arid area of Ramdurg taluk, Belgaum district, Karnataka, with the active participation of children and local communities. The concept focused on a decentralized community approach to enhance the use of local resources in an environmentally sustainable manner. The pilot test proved that the concept could be replicated and customized to the needs of any community where similar issues exist.