KABUL - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed another major food shipment from India as part of its pledge to donate one million metric tons of wheat to help feed schoolchildren in Afghanistan.
The Indian wheat is converted into fortified biscuits with micronutrients that boost children's nutrition and enhance their ability to learn. The biscuits - totaling 18,000 metric tons and worth an estimated US$19,390,000 - constitute the third shipment as part of India's million-ton pledge to WFP.
"We are very grateful to the government of India for this contribution. It has made a dramatic difference in our efforts to spread school feeding in Afghanistan and improve both the health and educational condition of many poor Afghan children," said WFP Country Director and Representative Charles Vincent.
Under school feeding projects, almost one million Afghan boys and girls received highly nutritious biscuits at school in 2004. WFP plans to cover 1.1 million students in 2005 and India's latest contribution will be pivotal in reaching this objective.
In an effort to encourage attendance, WFP is providing 500,000 schoolgirls in Afghanistan in 2005 with a four-litre tin of cooking oil to take home to their families. The oil serves as an extra incentive for parents to keep their daughters in school. Over the last three years, the overall gender gap among sample schools has improved: from three girls for every ten boys to six girls for every ten boys attending school.
"The biscuit snack not only provides nutrition for many hungry children who but it also encourages our students to be present in the class," said Noria Framorz, headmaster of Ashoqan and Arefan elementary school in Kabul
To address low class enrolment in areas where food insecurity levels are especially high, WFP will provide some 350,000 boys and girls 12.5 kilograms of wheat every month to take home to their families.
In close coordination with Government efforts, WFP assisted over five million vulnerable Afghans in 2004, including drought-affected families, refugees, internally displaced persons, orphans, poor widows, the disabled, urban and rural poor people, tuberculosis patients, and 1.1 million schoolchildren through its school feeding programmes. Half of the Afghan people who benefited from WFP projects participated through food-for-work activities to create community assets.
Major donors to WFP's operations in Afghanistan include: the United States (US$126 million), Japan (US$34 million), India (US$26 million), the European Commission (US$17 million), Italy US$8 million), Canada (US$6 million), the International Committee of the Red Cross (US$3 million), the United Kingdom (US$3 million), Switzerland (US$3 million), Saudi Arabia (US$2 million), Denmark (US$2 million), Luxembourg (US$1 million), Netherlands (US$1 million) and Ireland (US$1 million).
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year we give food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million children, in more than 80 countries.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.
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