Across the globe, child feeding programs are being cut at a time when more people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition than any time in history.
Mauritania is one of these countries afflicted. This is an African nation where poverty affects 68 percent of rural inhabitants, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). School feeding for children is an initiative that can help lift Mauritania out of this poverty cycle. However, inadequate funding for the World Food Programme has meant a reduction in school feeding for children in Mauritania.
The cuts in school feeding started slowly in March, but in April over 100,000 students had their school meals taken away because of the budget shortfalls. A WFP officer from Mauritania reports, “The ‘school meals’ activity of the Country Programme is facing major ruptures in stock due to a lack of contributions. These breaks forced the suspension of meals for 102,387 students out of a total of 159,000."
WFP school feeding at Seno Boussobe primary school, near Boghe, Mauritania (WFP/Marcus Prior)
WFP normally was able to provide a breakfast and a lunch to students in need. During the last part of the school year, WFP is "borrowing" food from some of its other programs in order to provide at least the breakfast meal. The lunch will be suspended. No new supply of food will arrive in time for this school year.
Looking ahead, only funding for 35 days worth of the next school year has come in to this point. Donor governments and the public need to help the World Food Programme and the government of Mauritania build this school feeding program, not take it away.
What can you do to help? You can contact the World Food Programme offices in Mauritania. Please write to WFP officers Guy Gauvreau and Jacqueline Seeley. Read more on the history of school feeding in Mauritania.