France helps WFP provide school meals as Malawi struggles to recover from cyclone Freddy
LILONGWE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of EUR 500,000 from the Government of France to support innovative home-grown school feeding activities in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts – two of the worst cyclone-affected districts in southern Malawi.
The contribution, which comes at a critical time, will support 18,000 primary school children in 17 schools and provide market opportunities for 600 smallholder farmers for one year.
“Providing nutritious food to children at school in vulnerable districts is a pathway to quality education,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP’s Country in Malawi. “We are grateful to the Government of France for supporting the home-grown school feeding activities whose benefits go beyond a plate of food. Our school feeding activities also boost the local economy.”
Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit the southern part of Malawi washing away crops, livelihoods, and valuable assets such as livestock, exacerbating food insecurity in the region. Some 320,000 hectares of land have been flooded, including 117,000 hectares of crops. The cyclone has also forced thousands of children out of school. Most of the children were receiving a daily school meal which sometimes is the only nutritious meal they get in a day.
“France is very pleased to partner with WFP and the Government of Malawi to supply daily nutritious school meals to school children,” said Arnaud Roux, Chargé d’affaires at the Embassy of France in Pretoria. “The home-grown school feeding model increases access to education while enhancing business opportunities for farmers”.
WFP’s home-grown school feeding programme, links school feeding activities with local smallholder farmers to provide schoolchildren with food that is safe, diverse, nutritious, and above all local at a time of increased needs. The benefits of this are evident and manifold. The schools provide local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.
Recent WFP evaluations of the school feeding activities in Malawi found that school meals reduced absenteeism by 5 percentage points while increasing attendance from 77 percent to 92 percent. In 2022, WFP reached 675,000 children with daily school meals across 476 schools in rural communities. A total 35,000 smallholder farmers have sold their produce to participating schools thereby accessing predictable and reliable markets.
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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability, and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.