Funding shortages and lack of security have limited the ability of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to provide school feeding for Yemeni children. The school feeding is part of WFP’s response to the hunger crisis in Yemen where nearly half of the population is “food insecure.”
WFP depends entirely on voluntary donations from the international community. As WFP notes, its school feeding project for Yemeni schoolgirls “has been under-funded for much of its implementation period.”
Civil unrest in Yemen has made it much more difficult for aid to be delivered in parts of the country. A WFP report says that the “school feeding activity will therefore be suspended in Sa’adah, Al Jawf, Mareb, Abyan (currently inaccessible under UN security regulations) and parts of Amran governorates. Should the situation and hence access improve, WFP will look to reinstate the programme in these currently suspended areas.”
In 2011, the WFP school feeding “project reached only 59,000 school girls during May 2011 compared to the planned figure of 114,639 participants during the three distributions in the school year (September to June).”
This year the project has been reduced to 53,000 students. A distribution of school feeding rations, with two months’ supply of food, took place in February but none has occurred since. WFP says the next school feeding distribution is scheduled for September or October.
WFP school feeding in Yemen provides take-home rations to schoolgirls. This also means food for the family of the student. For instance, this year’s distribution to 53,000 schoolgirls meant about 371,000 Yemenis received a food supply.
If the school feeding project were able to return to the level of 114,639 students, then the food rations would be reaching nearly one million Yemenis in total.
School feeding is also a way to increase the enrollment of girls. If parents know food is provided, they are more likely to send their children to school.
It’s the kind of program that you would want to see established throughout the whole country. More funding though is needed from the international community. The U.S. McGovern-Dole school feeding program would be a potential source of funding provided the Congress shows more support for this global initiative. McGovern-Dole has not received the funding levels advocates have called for in recent years.
WFP also runs a school feeding project as part of its aid to Somali refugees who have fled to Yemen. This program too is facing funding shortages.
All the people of Yemen have to choose peace and progress over the violence and instability that currently exists. This will allow Food for Education and other projects to go forward at full strength to defeat the crushing poverty that exists in the poorest country in the Middle East.