The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday said it has received US$1.2 million from the government of Japan to provide school meals in the North Bank (NBR) and Central River (CRR) regions of The Gambia. The grant would cover the next two years.
The funds, the WFP said would enable them to resume the provision of daily hot meals to 50,000 children in 186 public primary and traditional religious schools in the two regions in the new school year, which starts in September after a lack of funding had forced the WFP to stop its school meals programme temporarily.
The contribution, it added, would also help build the capacity of, and strengthen collaboration with, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education through implementation of the joint school meals action plan.
The World Food Programme Country Director in The Gambia, Angela Cespedes, said WFP is grateful for Japan’s continuous and timely support, adding that they recognise Japan’s commitment to their work in The Gambia.
“By supporting the school meals programme, WFP is responding to the significant needs of many vulnerable children and we can help them shape a brighter future,” she affirmed.
Cespedes said the contribution will allow WFP to support the country’s national development goals of reducing food insecurity and malnutrition among children, and to build on improving enrolment and retention rates of both girls and boys.
“School meals are an investment in the longer-term and help build human capital and increase the productivity of a nation.”
The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, the WFP said it assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
by Omar Wally