Multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer has partnered with The Niya Foundation to establish a nutrition programme aimed at securing nutritious food for children at schools and early childhood development centres in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The launch of this initiative took place today at Bonwelong Primary School in Ivory Park, the first of 23 schools where this project will be implemented over the coming 12 months.
Like many communities in South Africa, many people in this area struggle with the triple burden of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Devon de Sousa, the HR and legal director of The Niya Foundation, says that they are thrilled to be partnering with Bayer and that this initiative aligns well with Bayer’s vision of Health for All and Hunger for None.
“Bayer is committed to making a positive contribution in society. As a leader in health and nutrition, our vision is to benefit people and improve their quality of life. We are excited about this partnership with The Niya Foundation to not only provide children with nutritious meals, but to teach the children, teachers, parents and the wider community how to become more sustainable when it comes to growing and preparing their own nutritious food”, says Parusha Pillay, BBBEE Manager at Bayer.
Headquartered in KwaZulu Natal, The Niya Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, which equips South African Youth and women with agricultural and business skills, empowering them to ignite lifelong and successful careers. This initiative is part of a wider agriculture-nutrition and entrepreneurship programme being rolled out in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, to provide nutrition to children and the wider community.
Together Bayer and The Niya Foundation will not only be setting up 23 of these gardens at schools and centres in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, but they will also be upskilling and empowering the teachers and staff at these schools to provide meals for the children. Each of these 23 schools average between 300 and 1 000 students each.
“We have engaged with each of the schools and done profiles and a baseline study on each of them. We are very well versed in terms of the size of each school and what their capability might be, the resources available as well as the impact this project will have in each area,” de Sousa says.
“The aim is to impact 4 200 beneficiaries over the next 12 months, and we are confident that we will achieve this, and more,” de Sousa says. “We firmly believe that together with our partners, we can make a massive impact for the beneficiaries at large – the children, the teachers and the parents”.
Another aspect of this initiative is the fact that once the Niya Foundation leaves to move on to the next school, that these schools will not be left alone but will be fully self-sustainable.
“This is why Bayer is such a great partner. They don’t just start a project and leave. They are in it for the long haul, and we love their passion,” he says.
The end goal of this project is for these gardens to also earn some income for the schools, with surplus product, post the required consumption, being sold in order for the school or centre to purchase additional resources or the expansion of the project itself.
With Niya being Swahili in origin and meaning “purpose” and “radiance”, The Niya Foundation believes that there are no limits to what can be achieved.