CAIRO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed today a generous donation of 561 metric tons of dates from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, worth 5.5 million Egyptian Pounds (approximately US$790,000), to support WFP development projects in Egypt.
A delegation from the Saudi embassy handed over the dates to WFP Egypt Representative and Country Director GianPietro Bordignon at a ceremony at WFP’s Cairo office.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been supporting WFP operations in Egypt since 2007,” said Saudi Ambassador in Egypt His Excellency Ahmad Abdelaziz Katan. “We are glad to be contributing to WFP’s efforts in promoting education through school feeding programme in the poorest governorates in Egypt.” His Excellency the Ambassador was represented by Mohamed Ben Saad Al Hakabani, Senior Researcher at the International Development Cooperation Saudi Ministry of Finance and Councillor Abdel Razak Kashmiry at the ceremony.
WFP will distribute 404 metric tons of dates to more than 215,000 children and their families in the poorest and most food-insecure areas in Upper Egypt, including Fayoum, Menia, Sohag, Beni Sueif and Assiut governorates. Families whose children, especially girls, attend school regularly will receive the dates as part of a monthly take-home ration that includes rice and vegetable oil. WFP’s school feeding project in Egypt combats child labour and encourages girls’ education. The food assistance families receive compensates for the wage a child would earn if sent to work instead of school.
WFP will distribute the remaining 157 metric tons of dates to nearly 40,000 people participating in food-for-assets activities in newly developed areas in Upper Egypt, the Red Sea area and the High Dam Lake area. In 2013, more than half a million school children and their family members will benefit from WFP school feeding across the country.
“Saudi Arabia has been providing continuous support to our projects in Egypt adding this highly nutritious item to our food basket,” said Bordignon. “Dates are a more than welcome addition to the regular food basket we provide to families to encourage them to send their children to school.”
In 2008, at a time when food prices hit a record high, WFP received US$500 million from Saudi Arabia – the largest single donation WFP has ever received, and the Kingdom’s largest-ever contribution to any UN agency. WFP honoured King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for his generous support of the agency’s work.
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