The program invests in the next generation and in the future of the country, amid great challenges
Youri Arabadgi de Andrade
Mozambique is one of the most disaster prone places in the world. In a country where more than 65% of the population lives in rural areas and most of which depend on agriculture for their income, destruction caused by cyclones, droughts, floods and pests affects millions of people. In addition, insecurity in Cabo Delgado province has forced more than 800,000 people – nearly 50% of them children – to flee their villages and work.
Children are disproportionately affected by these crises. Violence and / or climate emergencies force children – especially girls – to drop out of school because their families seek help in the fields or with household chores. Those who still manage to attend classes start their days hungry, which affects their learning and participation.
In response to these challenges, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), in cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Mozambique and UNICEF, launched in May 2021 an emergency school feeding program, funded by the Global Partnership for Education. The program encourages school attendance and participation of children in crisis-affected areas, while improving their access to healthy food.
Through this program, WFP provided school meals to more than 92,000 students in 168 schools in areas affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth (March and April 2019) and insecurity in Cabo Delgado province. Depending on the school infrastructure, students receive either nutritious hot meals on site or monthly take-home rations of rice, beans, oil and salt. In addition, in order to stimulate local markets, most food is purchased from local retailers.
For Rosa, a mother of six, this program is essential for the future of her five grandchildren. When Cyclone Eloise hit Buzi district, Sofala province, in January 2021, homes, including his, were severely damaged and fields were destroyed, profoundly affecting livelihoods and lives.
âThere were children who did not go to class because they did not have [enough] eat, âshe said. âThis project is therefore important for keeping children in school. Education is the key to finding a better job, it is the key to a better future.
Maria Willian, Principal of Gurunguire Primary School, talks about the program’s positive impact on children’s academic success and development. âHunger is hunger. When you are hungry you have no energy – no energy for work, no energy for school, âshe said.
âBefore, most children only came to school once a week or even dropped out and dropped out of school. Now the situation has improved. According to the principal, the number of students enrolled and daily attendance have increased significantly since the launch of the school feeding program.
Antonella D’Aprile, WFP Representative and Country Director for Mozambique, said: âWFP believes that investing in a long-term approach to our vital operations is one of the foundations for stability, future peace and independence. The Global Partnership for Education’s emergency school feeding program is a prime example, as it invests in children’s education and health, thereby investing in Mozambique’s future, âshe said. .
The program will continue until the end of the school year, aiming to benefit more children. WFP also supported the Ministry of Education in the implementation of the national local school feeding program, to support approximately 195,000 students in 340 schools across the country by the end of the year. WFP is also helping an additional 68,000 students in schools outside the local program in Tete and Nampula provinces, with support from the Government of Canada and the private sector.