Lack of cash threatens school meals in Benin, warns UN food agency
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that tens of thousands of children in Benin will not receive their daily school meal when schools reopen in September unless additional funds are made available immediately.
WFP Benin’s school feeding programme, which reached nearly 70,000 school children in 400 schools last year, urgently requires $1 million – the equivalent of 1,200 metric tons of maize, beans, oil and fish.
“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,” said WFP Benin Country Director Jacques Roy. “We need new donations now so that we have time to buy the food and then get it out to the schools.”
Studies indicate that one meal during the school day not only staves off hunger, but 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 enrollment and attendance rates.
Along with school feeding in Benin, WFP provides assistance to 5,000 Togolese refugees in the country, as well as 12,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2006, WFP provided school meals to over three million children across West and Central Africa and over 20 million children in 71 countries around the world.