In his inaugural address President Barack Obama pledged to fight global hunger. In countries like the African nation of Kenya, the situation is becoming more desperate. Unrelenting drought has ruined harvests and caused food shortages. Last year violence following a disputed presidential election coupled with the global rise in food prices took its toll on Kenyans, many already living in poverty.
The slums of Nairobi, in the capital of Kenya, are the hardest hit by food shortages and increasing poverty. The Netherlands-based charity ChildsLife International is helping to fight this hunger and poverty, including providing school meals to children. Patricia Kicak, director of ChildsLife International, talks about how crucial school feeding is for children in Kenya, and the difficulty of funding this program.
How many children benefit from ChildsLife's school feeding programs within Kenya at this moment?
Currently, ChildsLife’s school feeding program benefits over 2,000 children in Kenya, from primary schools in the slums of the capital, Nairobi, to pre-primary schools in remote rural areas.
Discuss what effect the meals have on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.
As the saying goes, “education is the key to a better future.” At ChildsLife International, we believe that for a Kenyan child, education means a chance for a future. Through education, children get an opportunity. A chance to study, a chance to get a job, a chance to generate income and have a better life in the future. The primary objective of the ChildsLife school feeding program is to stabilize school attendance in areas where hunger and illness often prevent children from going to school. The program ensures that children, when in school, concentrate on classes. Their performance improves when they're not learning on an empty stomach.
Our challenge is to ensure that children go to school and remain there. In Kenya and throughout Africa, school feeding has had a proven impact on attendance rates. School feeding first provides a strong motivation for parents to get their children into schools, then it acts as a magnet to keep children in school. Finally, the program acts as a remedy to health problems, and lowers malnutrition risks for the most vulnerable children. Poor nutrition and poor health among schoolchildren in developing countries can make it even more difficult for them to succeed in their countries’ educational systems. Children who don’t get enough to eat have lower productivity levels, repeat grades, and even drop out of school. Food programs in these schools are essential to help children learn, by giving them the nourishment they need to concentrate. Often, lunches provided by schools are the only meals students receive on a daily basis.