CONAKRY - More than 240,000 children will receive school meals this academic year in Guinea, as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) expands its school meals programme from 735 to 1,605 primary schools across the country.
As schools reopen across Guinea this week, WFP is resuming its school meals programme in all four regions of the country. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education and partners, WFP will provide daily hot meals to children in the most food-insecure areas of the country, where poverty and malnutrition rates are the highest.
“When a nutritious hot meal is available at school, attendance rates increase significantly. School meals provide food security for children, keeping them in school and enabling them to concentrate on their studies,” said Elisabeth Faure, WFP Country Director in Guinea.
Due to the Ebola outbreak, public schools in Guinea remained closed after the 2014 summer holidays to help limit the spread of the virus. In January 2015, as schools began to reopen, WFP played an important role in encouraging families to send their children to school by gradually scaling-up the number of school canteens.
Providing school meals is crucial in a country where 1.9 million people do not have enough food to lead healthy lives. The country is also still bearing the brunt of the Ebola outbreak, and people remain vulnerable.
In Guinea, high repetition and dropout rates remain serious concerns, particularly amongst adolescent girls. According to the Ministry of Education’s school statistics for 2014, more than 17 percent of the country’s primary-school aged population is not attending classes, -- three-quarters of them are girls. To address this, WFP is providing take-home rations to girls who attend school regularly.
“WFP’s take-home rations encourage parents to send their daughters to school. When girls are educated, they are more likely to have fewer and healthier children, breaking the cycle of hunger and malnutrition,” said Faure.
WFP works closely with the Ministry of Education and other partners to ensure sustainable school meals programme in Guinea.
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WFP 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, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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