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Sunday, October 26, 2008
Rwanda is on the long road to recovery from the 1994 genocide that devastated the African nation. Hunger and poverty still grip the country. The way out of this vicious cycle is food and education. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is helping provide school meals to fight child hunger and promote class attendance. Lets take a closer look at this program with Guy Adoua, a World Food Programme officer in Rwanda.
School Feeding in Sierra Leone: An Interview with Christa Räder of the United Nations World Food Programme
Sierra Leone continues to recover from a decade-long civil war that ended in 2001. The war destroyed most of the country’s socioeconomic and physical infrastructure, and caused unprecedented population displacement. Domestic production of rice, the country’s main staple, currently only meets about 70 percent of the consumption requirements. The remainder needs to be imported at increasingly expensive prices. Located in West Africa, Sierra Leone ranks last out of the 177 countries listed in the latest United Nations Human Development Index. About 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and is vulnerable to food insecurity, while 26 percent cannot even afford the minimum daily calorific requirements. Sierra Leone has one of the highest child malnutrition rates as well. Nine percent of children below five years are acutely malnourished and about 40 percent are chronically malnourished, not able to live up to their physical and mental potential. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is helping Sierra Leone fight hunger and poverty. In the following interview with Christa Räder, WFP Country Director for Sierra Leone, we will look at school feeding programs that combat child hunger.
School Feeding in Burkina Faso: An Interview with Olga Keita of the United Nations World Food Programme
Located in West Africa, Burkina Faso is classified as both a least-developed country, and a low-income and food-deficit country. More than 45% of the population lives below the poverty line. Very food-insecure, with high rates of both chronic and acute malnutrition (respectively 34.6% and 23.1%), the country is subject to recurrent drought, which results in cereal shortfall. The enrollment rate in primary school is one of the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2007 Human Development Report ranked Burkina Faso 176th out of 177 countries. United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) assistance reaches an average of 450,000 beneficiaries per year in 25 provinces characterized by structural food insecurity, high rates of chronic malnutrition, low school enrollment, low literacy, and low attendance at health centers. WFP school feeding provides meals to rural primary school children located in the arid Sahel Region of Burkina Faso. This region is the most food-insecure part of the country, with low yields and cereal production that sometimes covers only 50% of the population’s needs. The climate is also a challenge, with a rainy season that lasts just three months and temperatures that range from 10° C in December to more than 43° C in March and April. School Gross Enrollment in the Sahel region is the lowest in the country (48.8% vs. 72.5%), with a high gender disparity, especially at the beginning of WFP’s school feeding program in 2003.