Investing in school meals ‘win-win’ for West African nations
The United Nations (UN) food relief agency has urged Governments in West Africa to spend more money on school meal programs as these investments will not only contribute to children’s better future but also create local jobs around agriculture.
“It is a win-win opportunity which governments must seize,” said Abdou Dieng, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“Children enjoy healthy meals that make it more likely that they will stay in school and learn for a better future, while jobs are created and businesses develop,” he added.
The call was made on African Day of School Feeding, annually observed this month.
As of now, WFP’s regional school meals program, which aims to assist about 2.7 million children this year, faces a $60 million funding gap.
Without proper financing, the program will fall short, leave many vulnerable students hungry and at risk of dropping out of school, UN said.
Nevertheless, some governments in the region are now showing a growing interest in investing more in national school meals program.
The Government of Benin, for instance, has allotted $47 million to feed 400,000 children over the course of five years in partnership with WFP, using a home-grown school meals model.