As students across Canada went back to school this week, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) announced a C$25 million (US$25.5m) donation to the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide millions of their peers in 12 developing countries with school meals.
This is part of a multi-year funding agreement with WFP, which ensures predictable funding for school meals programmes in countries that are in critical need of support.
As well as giving vital nourishment, these school meals
act as a safety net for poor families and help keep children in class.
“This donation is especially vital now in the Sahel region which has been struggling for months with a severe food crisis due to drought”, said WFP Regional Director for West Africa, Thomas Yanga. “We are extremely grateful to the Canadian people and government for their continued commitment to support WFP activities, such as school feeding, given that one of the worst consequences of the Sahel crisis is that many families had resorted to withdrawing their children from school.”
The Canadian package will assist school feeding programmes in 12 countries* including Mali, Niger, Senegal, Gambia and Chad.
School meals are among WFP’s measures to assist some 10 million hungry people in eight countries across the Sahel
The Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino, is making his first field visit to WFP operations in Burkina Faso this week. Minister Fantino will see for himself how WFP, with Canada’s support, is distributing food, including food for refugees from Mali’s conflict. The Canadian contribution of nearly C$2 million recently donated to WFP for Burkina Faso is being spent on local purchase of cereals and maize – which will enable WFP to distribute a one-month ration to more than 1.1 million people.
With support from programmes like these, people are more likely to stay in their villages instead of migrating, keep their children in school and raise their nutritional health.
• The 12 countries receiving Canada’s assistance for WFP School Meals are: Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Nepal and Bolivia.
Facts on Burkina Faso, where Canadian Development Minister Julian Fantino is heading: Crop failures have been reported in about 40 percent of the country, with a 16 percent decline in grain production compared to last year. Close to 1.7 million people are estimated to be at risk of going hungry. Food prices are high. The government has declared a food and nutrition crisis, and has called for national and international support.
What WFP is doing: WFP is planning to reach 1.2 million people with assistance. We aim to provide food assistance to families over a four-month period (July – October) coinciding with the lean season before the next harvest. To prevent acute malnutrition, WFP will provide specialised nutritional products for the next six months to all children under the age of two.