- Unless more funds are immediately available, ten of thousands of students in Benin will go hungry. This means the children will be without a daily next term, officials of the World Food Programme (WFP), today warned.
WFP Benin’s school feeding programme, which reached nearly 70,000 school children in 400 schools last year, urgently requires US$1 million – the equivalent of 1,200 metric tons of maize, beans, oil and fish. Without additional funds, there will be no daily meals
when schools reopen in September.
“We are afraid that there won’t be any WFP food trucks turning up at the schools next term, and if the trucks don’t come, many of the children don’t come either,” the Country Director of WFP Benin, Jacques Roy, said.
“We need new donations now so that we have time to buy the food and then get it out to the schools.”
Over the years, the provision of school meals across West Africa has been linked to both higher attendance and improved concentration among students, which makes school feeding programmes important.
WFP officials believe that the fact that canteen supplies are purchased locally, cash contributions can be put to immediate use in Benin, particularly at a time when local food prices are comparatively low.
The UN food body provided school meals to over three million children across West and Central Africa and over 20 million in 71 countries around the world in 2006.
Studies prove that one meal during the school day does not only stave off hunger, but also improves children’s ability to learn. School meals are also a major incentive for families to send their children, especially girls, to school, often resulting in higher enrolment and attendance rates.
Apart from giving assistance to school feeding programme in Benin, WFP provides assistance to 5,000 Togolese refugees in the country as well as 12,000 people living
Since 1964, the UN body has been striving to feed Benin’s poor population. The West African country is considered among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 163 out of 177on the United Nation’s Human Development Index in 2006.
Besides, 23 percent of the country’s children are moderately stunted, which serves as impediment to development.
In recent past, WFP’s quest to drive hunger in Benin has been supported mainly by Luxembourg, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, China and New Zealand.
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