Sahel Food Crisis: School Meals Needed in Chad as Hunger Deepens

The African nation of Chad is in the middle of a hunger crisis as drought has struck, ruining the country’s food supply. Chad is part of the Sahel region of Africa which in recent months has seen poor crop production. Hunger and malnutrition are growing, and the international community needs to act fast to avert a massive humanitarian disaster. (see Sahel Food Crisis: Race Against Time To Save Lives.)

Many families have less food, and what food is available on the market has gone up in price significantly. Many of these families are already living on fewer than 2 dollars a day so any increase in food prices is extremely serious.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is providing school feeding in Chad as part of its response to the crisis. These meals not only save children from hunger but also keep them in school and learning.

When a hunger crisis hits a community, children often drop out of school to help earn wages for the family. This negative coping strategy denies children education and may even put them in danger.

Critical for Chad will be ensuring that school feeding is continued through the upcoming months when the food shortages will be at their worst. Malek Triki, WFP information officer, provides us an update on the school feeding response in Chad.

How many children are currently receiving school meals through WFP in Chad?

Currently, 205,000 schoolchildren (of which 45% are girls) are receiving schools meals in 790 primary schools across Chad. WFP plans to assist more than 250,000 school children in 2012 and around 265,000 in 2013.

Are the schools in communities impacted by high food prices and/or drought?

Yes, most of the schools assisted by WFP are located in areas affected by high food prices and the drought, especially in the Sahelian zone. The poor harvest means that the food availability is highly reduced, which translates into high food prices on local markets. Schoolchildren will depend more and more on school meals as their main source of food.

What are the latest reports of nutrition levels among school children?

Schoolchildren are in the age category of 7 to 14 years, which falls out of the age category targeted by nutrition surveys in Chad (under 5). However, the global acute malnutrition levels stand at 16% – beyond the emergency threshold rate of 15%.

Does WFP have enough resources to carry out school meals in the coming months?

If the current level of funding doesn’t improve, WFP will not be able to carry out school meals in the coming months. Out of about US$ 10 million required for the year 2012, only US$ 2 million have been secured. There is an urgent need to have funds to purchase over 5000 Mt of assorted commodities including MML, pulses, oil and salt.

For more information visit the World Food Programme.

Article first published as Sahel Food Crisis: School Meals Needed in Chad as Hunger Deepens on Blogcritics.

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