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Tajikistan: The Struggle to Build National School Feeding

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is helping Tajikistan build a national school feeding program. This is a major step toward eradicating child hunger and poverty in the country.

Right now, funding is a major issue with WFP facing a $2.7 million shortage for 2011. The World Food Programme relies on voluntary donations from the international community.

Russia is the largest donor to school feeding in Tajikistan and has just sent a new supply of food. In the meantime, schools in the northern region of Sughd are faced with reduced rations.

Alzira Ferreira, WFP Tajikistan director, says, “Given the increasing prices of food in Tajikistan and the Central Asia region, especially the price of wheat, the staple here, we are very keen to maintain the school feeding programme functioning at adequate levels, as school feeding is widely recognized as one of the most important food safety nets at times of price pressure on poorer households.” WFP reports that “The poorest groups of the population spend over 70 percent of their income on food.”

Low funding and high food prices place school feeding in Tajikistan in jeopardy (World Food Programme photo)

WFP is also researching the possibility of local food production to supply the school feeding. Buying locally saves money for WFP and gives farmers in Tajikistan a market for their product. With enough funding this local food purchase can go forward and benefit farmers in Tajikistan as well as school children.

The potential is there for school feeding to take off in Tajikistan. Will there be enough funding, though, to sustain the program, especially with high food prices? Will local production of food get off the ground? If these events happen Tajikistan may some day have its own sustainable school feeding program.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.