The violence in the African nation of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) may have subsided but hunger remains. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is low on funding for its relief mission in the war-torn country.
WFP is short US $19.2 million for feeding war victims inside the Ivory Coast. The UN agency is also short about $3.5 million for feeding those who fled the violence into neighboring Liberia.
A WFP representative said over 103,000 internally displaced persons in Côte d'Ivoire out of a planned 205,000 have received food this month.
The Ivory Coast suffered through months of violence following last fall's disputed presidential election. A long and difficult reconstruction awaits. Food and medical needs are still great.
UNICEF is reporting that some schools there have reopened. There is hope of getting children back into class and a normal life. Supplies are needed for these schools.
In addition, many families lost their incomes due to the destruction caused by the conflict. This may prevent children from going to school.
Hervé Ludovic de Lys, a UNICEF official in Côte d’Ivoire, says, "Parents are now faced with the difficult choice of sending their children to school or relying on them to work to provide income to the family—cultivating fields, hauling bricks, or helping in the markets. With the delay, the school year will overlap the harvest season."
WFP has provided school feeding in Ivory Coast. This type of program could prove very vital in the months to come by providing an incentive for parents to send their children to school.
School meals would be an important safety net for the families of Ivory Coast. These programs can also be combined with a form of take-home rations. Food can be an important player in jumpstarting the education system.
UNICEF stated last week, "Education is essential to re-building countries in the aftermath of conflict. It helps increase stability and thereby reduces the risk of countries spiraling into poverty and further conflict. In addition to providing a sense of normalcy and hope, crucial survival skills and the capacity to be productive citizens once the crisis is over, education helps protect children from child labour, trafficking or sexual abuse."
It all hinges, though, on funding from the international community. WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. This funding will prove decisive as to what fate awaits the Ivory Coast.