Nepal is a country recovering from a civil war and a series of natural disasters. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), “Most families survive as subsistence farmers with 24 percent of the population living on less than US$1 per day. Development and humanitarian relief efforts remain challenged by a new wave of civil unrest and violence in the southern districts.”
School feeding programs are vital to Nepal’s recovery. In the following interview with Richard Ragan, World Food Programme country director for Nepal, we discuss school feeding and its status in Nepal.
How many children are benefiting from the WFP school feeding programs within the country?
WFP provides fortified meals to 180,000 children in more than 2,200 schools in some of the most remote areas of Mid- and Far-Western Nepal. Chronic malnutrition rates in these areas are as high as 60 percent, which in most countries is sufficient to trigger an emergency response.
We also believe it is critical for girls to be educated, which unfortunately is not always a priority in Nepal. To provide that opportunity, we offer an additional incentive to families sending their girls to school - a monthly take-home ration of cooking oil. This helps offset the ‘loss of hands’ at home so that girls can attend school instead of being kept at home to perform household chores.
Because “take home rations” have proved so effective, we’re piloting the initiative in other parts of the country. We’re providing the monthly take-home ration of cooking oil to 50,000 girls in districts bordering India, where girls’ enrollment rates in schools are very low.
We also provide deworming tablets to children in school feeding programs to help their bodies better absorb the micronutrients they so desperately need to grow and learn.
In total, nearly 500,000 children and their families benefit from WFP food assistance under this program.