Friday , May 17 2024
The school feeding program and take-home rations have been crucial in increasing school attendance for girls in rural areas.

Interview: Giorgia Testolin, Country Director of the World Food Programme – Djibouti

In the Horn of Africa, the country of Djibouti struggles to produce its own food due to successive droughts. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reports that Djibouti’s population of about 632,000 depends entirely on imported food. With high poverty and low education levels within the country, WFP has been implementing school feeding programs. Giorgia Testolin, Country Director of WFP Djibouti, talks about this Food for Education initiative.

How many children are benefiting from the WFP school feeding programs within the country?

For the 2008/2009 school year, we have about 10,000 pupils benefiting from the school feeding program. We also have 3,600 girls who benefit from take-home rations, which encourage girls to attend school. The program covers all 71 rural schools of Djibouti.

Discuss what effect the meals have on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.

In rural areas the school feeding program is essential to attract pupils to school. Many families are nomadic pastoralists who frequently move to find fresh pastureland for their livestock. These families have settled near the school to ensure that their children attend classes and are fed a regular meal. The school feeding program and take-home rations have been crucial in increasing school attendance for girls in rural areas.

What plans are there for making school meals available for all children?

School meals are currently available for all rural children, with no plans to change the program in the near future.

What would be the sources of funding for any expansion of the school feeding program?

School feeding is now a priority for the government of Djibouti. The school feeding program has been funded primarily through development resources distributed by WFP. Recently, the European Union (EU) made a contribution to be used for the school feeding program.

What has been the effect of rising food prices on this funding effort?

High food prices have significantly affected the lump sum the government of Djibouti is providing to each school to complement the WFP food basket. The same amount of money buys less food for school feedings. WFP was not able to buy as much cooking oil as in the past, which has had a negative impact on the take-home rations program. We hope to overcome this problem now that we have the EU contribution.

How can someone help the school feeding program?

Any contribution is welcome.

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.

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