New UN scheme aims to feed 172,000 most vulnerable Iraqi schoolchildren

New UN scheme aims to feed 172,000 most vulnerable Iraqi schoolchildren

Iraqi children attend school
The United Nations food agency today launched a school feeding programme in Iraq, providing some 172,000 children with a free daily snack to help boost attendance and learning in eight of the country’s poorest districts.

Under the $1.6 million World Food Programme (WFP) pilot scheme, funded by the Iraqi Government, the primary schoolchildren will each receive an 80-gramme date bar fortified with a range of micronutrients over the next three months.

Next year, WFP is planning to extend the school meals initiative to cover almost 1 million children in the most vulnerable districts in 14 governorates, some of which only have 56 per cent of their children registered in primary school.

“This initiative, which we are taking to support the Ministry of Education, is one of a number of projects WFP is undertaking to assist the most vulnerable people in Iraq,” said WFP Iraq Country Director Edward Kallon.

“This is part of our overall strategy to help the Government provide social safety nets for the poorest members of the population,” added Mr. Kallon.

WFP noted that only 66 per cent of children complete primary school education in Iraq and nine out of ten children under the age of 15 do not attend school regularly.

In countries where school attendance is low, this type of feeding project managed by WFP over the last 45 years has demonstrated that the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day increases enrolment and promotes regular attendance, the agency said in a news release.

WFP also plans to move production of the date bars from Egypt to Iraq and develop manufacturing capacity through the private sector, in with its strategy of purchasing locally to boost employment, promote local agriculture and stimulate the countries’ economy.