Japan partners with WFP to support school meals and treatment of chronic malnutrition in Guinea-Bissau
BISSAU - On Thursday 20 December 2018, the Government of Japan signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) worth JPY 240 million (XOF 1,264 million) to support the National school meals programme and contribute to the treatment of child malnutrition in Guinea-Bissau.
The partnership agreement was signed at the Ministry of Education in the presence of Dr. Maria Inacia Có Mendes Sanhá, Minister of Public Health, Family and Social Cohesion and Dr. Camilo Simões Pereira, Minister of Education, Higher Education, Youth, Culture and Sports.
The contribution of the Government of Japan to support the school meals programme will serve to purchase locally produced food from women’s farmer associations in the Bafatá, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara and Tombali regions, as well as canned fish produced by Japanese fishermen affected by the great Tohoku earthquake of 2011.
H.E. Mr. Tatsuo Arai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan, who signed the agreement, said during the signing ceremony: "This funding, aimed at supporting the efforts of the Government of Guinea-Bissau to guarantee food security in the country through WFP, contributes to strengthening the foundations for its economic and social development."
The school meals programme, supported by WFP, intends to reach 180,000 students from 850 elementary schools in rural areas in all of 38 sectors in 8 regions of the country in the current school year 2018/2019. It provides daily hot and nutritious meals to schoolchildren from 1st to 6th grade and 3.8 kg of rice per month to girls in 5th and 6th grade to take home, provided they attend more than 80 percent of classes during the month.
In addition to benefiting students, the programme will train school principals, school management committee members, Ministry of Education’s school inspectors, school meals programme focal points, ministerial staff of the General Directorate of Schools Meals and Social Affairs, in school meals programme management and monitoring. The programme also supports the training of school cooks on basics of nutrition and good hygiene practices in meal preparation, as well as the construction and rehabilitation of school kitchens and storage space.
Dr. Camilo Simões Pereira, Minister of Education, thanked the Government of Japan and confirmed the multiple benefits of the school meals programme, which encourages families to enrol and keep children in school, ensures the minimum conditions for quality learning, improves children’s nutrition and contributes to their balanced physical and intellectual growth.
The contribution also provides continuity to the partnership between WFP and the Ministry of Public Health to implement the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition using nutritious foods composed of corn, soybeans and other nutrients that targets 2,033 young children of 6-59 months in Bafatá, Gabu and Oio, the three regions of the country with the highest rates of chronic malnutrition.
The Minister Maria Inacia Có Mendes Sanhá, considered the donation for the treatment of malnutrition a humanitarian act and an essential measure to save lives of children under 5 and reduce child mortality.
WFP Representative Ms. Kiyomi Kawaguchi stressed that the tripartite partnership between the Governments of Japan, Guinea-Bissau and WFP in 2018 marked a turning point in the school meals programme with the purchase of locally produced food. The contribution from the Government of Japan will continue to support women farmers to increase family income with access to a stable market, as well as promote opportunities for literacy, nutritional education, and knowledge in organic farming; ensuring better nutrition for families. The holistic programme aims to improve both the incomes of farming households and children’s success in school, especially among adolescent girls in rural areas.
A UNICEF study on out-of-school children and an independent evaluation of school meals programme have recognized that the school meals programme is among the best incentives to enrol and keep children at school, and the most effective measure to combat against girls' drop-out, especially those in 5th and 6th grade. The school meals programme has proven positive impacts in four sectors: education, access and quality learning; nutrition and health; social protection and family agriculture.
The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.