Algeria has been host to thousands of refugees who fled the conflict in Western Sahara in 1975. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) helps provide food to these refugees, including school meals. In the following interview with Richard Dalrymple, WFP country director for Algeria, we will look at this school feeding program and its importance for children in the refugee camps.
How many children are benefiting from the WFP school feeding programs within the country?
Some 26,900 Western Saharan child refugees who attend primary schools receive a mid-day snack provided by WFP.
Discuss what effect the meals have on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.
Attendance at primary schools within Sahrawi refugee camps is very high because of the importance refugee parents place on education. The WFP snack of a high energy biscuit helps facilitate high attendance among children already motivated to attend school. It is a nutrient-rich complement to the WFP general feeding rations and NGO and bilateral support that refugees receive.
What plans are there for making school meals available for all children?
In the Western Saharan refugee camps WFP's focus is on primary school children. Once these children reach secondary school age they are transferred to Algerian schools outside the camps, where they receive support from the Algerian and Western Saharan governments.
What would be the sources of funding for any expansion of the school feeding program?
The goals of the program in Algeria do not include expansion. In fact, it is hoped that a political solution will soon be reached that will enable the refugees who have been in Algeria since 1975 to return home.
What has been the effect of rising food prices on funding?
School feeding is only a small component of a large project involving the monthly distribution of some 2,200 metric tons (MT) of food aid. High Energy Biscuits (HEB) make up 18 tons of the monthly distribution. The cost of such biscuits is high at $1,500/MT. Thus far, donor support has met this requirement.
How can someone help the school feeding program?
Individuals can make a project-specific contribution to school feeding through WFP on our website.
Anything else you'd like to add about why you think school feeding is important for people to support?
Refugee children, like children in developed countries, have dreams they want to achieve in life. However, they must first rise from their difficult circumstances in order to achieve them. Some of the world's greatest thinkers, including Albert Einstein, were refugees. These children deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their potential and worth.