At a time when support for children’s nutrition and education in Asia is more needed than ever, WFP has welcomed a visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand to WFP projects in Orissa, India.
Her Royal Highness, who is WFP’s Special Ambassador for School Feeding, will visit a school in Koraput district of Orissa province where children receive fortified meals through a WFP programme, as well as a joint project with the Government of India that aims to improve nutrition and health among mothers and young children.
The visit is particularly welcome as it highlights the need to focus on both children’s education and nutrition in Asia.
Underweight and out of school
While the region continues to see strong economic growth, one-third of Asian children are underweight due to malnutrition and 60 million children in the region are out of school.
WFP, in cooperation with national governments, addresses both problems through its school feeding programmes, which give children meals or food enriched with vitamins and minerals, improving nutrition rates and providing poor families with an additional reason to send their children to school.
School feeding projects
WFP’s school feeding programmes currently cover 6.5 million school children in Asia, of whom 675,000 are in India.
HRH Princess Sirindhorn will be visiting a WFP school feeding project at Haradapat Sevashram School in Koraput district, as well as an Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centre at Karingiaguda in the same district.
Integrated child development
The ICDS programme is one of the largest national development programmes in the world.
Started by the Government of India in 1975, ICDS improves the welfare of new mothers and children under 6 by providing health and nutrition education, health services, supplementary food, and pre-school education.
WFP supports the programme by providing enriched flour for distribution to over 865,000 mothers and children.
Social development projects
HRH Princess Sirindhorn chose to visit the ICDS project in particular due to its similarities with the Thai social development projects that she has overseen since 1980, focusing on improving the nutrition and health status of children attending schools in remote communities.
After the tsunami hit the southern coast of Thailand in December 2004, WFP provided six months of emergency food assistance to schools in the affected provinces, with Her Royal Highness’ backing.
In October 2003, HRH Princess Sirindhorn graciously accepted the role of Special Ambassador of WFP for School Feeding.
Because of her distinguished academic record, practical background in child nutrition and her exemplary humanitarian commitment and active role in social development, WFP recognizes HRH Princess Sirindhorn as a compelling and eloquent advocate for school feeding.