The Ambassador of France in Burkina Faso Emmanuel Beth visited WFP nutrition and school feeding activities in the Sahel region alongside WFP Country Director Angelline Rudakubana and others from the WFP Burkina Faso team.
"Seeing mothers with their babies enjoying the food, I can say that this assistance is essential, " said Ambassador Beth during his visit to a health center in Dori, capital of the region.
"I hope that we will work alongside WFP for a long time to come because it is clear that our funds are well used, "said Beth, adding that the French government's contribution to WFP in Burkina Faso increased from US$ 1.38 million in 2010 to US$ 2.1 million in 2011.
At the health centers, the ambassador showed a special interest in nutrition activities implemented with the support of WFP, including the provision of fortified food to malnourished children from 6 to 59 months and to malnourished pregnant and nursing women.
Beth and Rudakubana asked questions and listened to the stories of the mothers whose children were receiving nutrition support. One mother said she walkedof 12 km from her village to reach the health center to provide her child with Super Cereal, a nutritious fortified flour mix.
The group also visited schools, where students eat a breakfast of enriched porridge and a lunch of couscous and local beans through WFP'school feeding progamme.
In addition to improving students'nutrition and learning, the programme is effective at keeping girls in school.
"It encourages the regular attendance of girls in school. The parents of students know that if their daughters attend school diligently, they receive a 10 kg ration of food to take home every month," explaine Rudakubana.
The president of the Parents' Association praised the programme, outlining its benefits on the students.
"The canteen is a very important activity for children of the Sahel region. It not only allows children to eat well, but also to go to school," he said. However, he added, the association is also looking towards the future.
"We are aware that WFP assistance cannot last forever and, along with the local authorities, we are now thinking about ways to start our own school feeding canteens," he said.
Celestine Ouedraogo is the Programme Assistant for Basic Education activities in Burkina Faso, as well as the Public Information focal point and the Walk the World focal point. Before joining WFP in 1998, Celestine worked for CEAO (West African Economic Organisation, currently UEMOA) and UNHCR.