ABIDJAN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it had halved the size of school meals for almost 430,000 children in Côte d’Ivoire because of funding shortfalls and announced that it urgently needed US$6 million to restore full rations and keep feeding malnourished children.
In February, WFP cut the size of food rations to half the normal quantity for primary school children. WFP said rations would be cut even more then stopped altogether at the beginning of April unless new contributions are received.
“This sharp reduction in food rations is most unfortunate since it takes place at a time when the country is on a critical path in the peace process,” said Thomas Yanga, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa.
More funding would be needed to cover any potential emergency needs such as political unrest in the country, he said. “Should the current situation deteriorate, WFP will not have the local resources to respond appropriately,” said WFP Representative Alain Cordeil in Côte d’Ivoire.
Severe acute malnutrition and chronic malnutrition rates in the northwestern Worodougou region and the western Montagnes region are above the World Health Organization’s critical threshold. In addition to the problems funding school meals, WFP will have to cut supplementary feeding to 10,000 malnourished children who presently receive a nutritious ration micronutrient fortified corn-soya blend if it does not receive US$300,000 by March. And assistance to 22,500 children who are affected by HIV Aids and presently receive a family food ration is also in jeopardy.
“WFP food assistance is vital to combat the situation that could worsen into a nutritional crisis on a wider scale. It is urgent to prevent high malnutrition rates during the lean season from May to September,” said Dr. Patricia N’Goran, director of the National Nutrition Programme.
WFP aims to feed more than 1 million people hit by conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, particularly in the northern and western regions.
For further information:
Alain Cordeil, WFP/Abidjan, Tel. +225 20302801, Cell. +225 09731010
Rachel Pierre, WFP/Abidjan, Tel. +225 20302805, Cell. +225 05444377
Malek Triki, WFP/Dakar, Tel. + 221 33 849 65 00 Ext. 2103, Cell. +221 776375964
Emilia Casella, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304