Star Chef Cooks For Sahel’s Children As Fresh Milk Fuels The Hopes Of Thousands
OUAGADOUGOU – In a region where school enrolment rates are very low, and early marriages a major cause of dropout among young girls, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has set up school canteens to help reduce malnutrition rates and to keep children in school. For better results, the organization has partnered with a women’s group that specializes in milk processing.
The “milk project” – known here as the “white gold of the Sahel” – started in 2015 in Dori, the capital of Sahel region, one of Burkina Faso’s poorest and most malnutrition-prone areas. It involves the use of local products in school snacks: every day, a total of 3460 children, from more than 20 schools across the region, are receiving locally made yoghurt. The project has turned a whole community – and above all the women from Dori’s milk processing plant – into custodians of the children’s wellbeing.
“We are very happy with the outcomes of this project. One year ago it was hard to imagine that we could serve fresh yogurt to all these children everyday. We still have long way to go to further expand and reach thousand more kids across the Sahel but the community has taken ownership of the project, the most innovative and sustainable of its kind,“ said Jean Charles-Dei, Burkina Faso country Director”
To raise awareness of the milk project and of WFP’s wider work towards Zero Hunger, the internationally renowned chef Christian Abegan has cooked a special menu, using locally produced foods, for the children of Dori on 12 January. Almost 500 people – mostly children but also government officials – were there to celebrate a symbol of hard work, dedication and partnership. In preparation, Chef Abegan could be seen walking the winding and vibrant streets of Dori’s market, sampling fresh vegetables, meat and other produce.
“For me, cooking is an act of love, and I just want to share love with these children and this village. I have been inspired by their joint efforts to build a better community and give their children the opportunity to live a healthy life, not hungry life,” said enthusiastically
In Burkina Faso, the national rate of global acute malnutrition for children under five rose to 10.4 per cent in 2015. The rate of stunting (or low growth for age), which is caused by chronic malnutrition, was 30.2 per cent. An authoritative African Union-led study has concluded that undernutrition in children is costing Burkina Faso an estimated 7.7 per cent of GDP a year.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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