SAN SALVADOR - The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, James Morris, has called for continued support from the governments and the private sector in Central America to eradicate child hunger as the best way to overcome poverty in the region.
"If we could just harness our joint efforts to ensure that women and their children have access to nutritious food and basic health care, we would very quickly see the change", Morris said. He was speaking at the start of a visit this week to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua
"It is achievable: it costs less than US$1 a week for each beneficiary to provide supplementary feeding to mothers and children for one year, including the cost of fortifying the food with micronutrients, such as Vitamin A, iodine and iron," Morris added.
Malnutrition among children in Central America remains a serious problem. Guatemala, for example, has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition among children under five in Latin America - 49 percent. In El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua the figures are also high - 19, 29 and 20 percent respectively.
Chronic malnutrition can permanently impair a child's physical and intellectual growth. Malnourished children are less resistant to diseases, cannot concentrate in the school, and will be less productive during their adulthood perpetuating the cycle of poverty and hunger.
"These children are simply not getting a fair deal. We owe them the chance to get a better future," said Morris.
Morris also spoke about the importance of partnerships in tackling malnutrition and emphasized that it is crucial to support education by providing nutritious meals to children in the region. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, WFP provides a daily nutritious meal to more than 1.3 million schoolchildren, keeping them healthy and providing their parents with an incentive to keep them in school.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency; each year, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.
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