Last year U.N. goodwill ambassador Emma Watson, in a stirring speech, launched the HeForShe movement for gender equality. Watson called for action, not just talk, in support of girls’ rights.
Read the full article at the The Huffington Post.
When you can fight hunger and give a child hope at the same time, you can change the world. We have seen this time and time again over the years with school feeding.
First is through a Food for Education program which accomplishes two goals at once. To encourage attendance of girls to class, WFP provides take-home food rations. This not only boosts the attendance at school, but helps feed an entire family. You fight hunger and you boost education with one act.
With about 10 million Yemenis facing hunger, food assistance programs like this are desperately needed.
WFP spokesperson Barry Came says 53,000 girls are currently receiving the rations. When you add the fact that their entire family benefits, then 371,000 Yemenis are being helped with this food. The rations consist of wheat and vegetable oil which are distributed in two or three rounds over the course of the school year.
The problem becomes keeping this initiative funded, which has been very difficult for some years. WFP was not even able to run the program for a period of time. In addition, more children could be reached with additional funding.
WFP relies on voluntary funding from governments and the public. A grant, for instance, from the U.S. McGovern-Dole school meals program could make a significant difference in the reach of Food for Education. Right now the program is short $5 million.
WFP also has school feeding for refugee children. Thousands of Somalis have fled the conflict and hunger in their homeland, to find refuge in Yemen. WFP is helping refugee children by providing meals at school.
At the Kharaz refugee camp, in the deserts of southern Yemen, WFP is feeding about 4,500 Somali boys and girls at two primary schools. In addition, WFP is also feeding 4,500 more children, many of which are Somalis, at a school in the Al Basateen district of Aden.
Came says all children at the school receive the meals “in the belief that it helps to integrate the two communities.” The school feeding for Somali refugees currently faces a $1.7 million shortage in funds.
No nation can progress without healthy and educated children. School feeding provides an opportunity for Yemen to make progress, but it will depend on the support of the international community going forward.
Article first published as Feeding the Future of Yemen on Blogcritics.
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, 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 2 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 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 US 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.
Article first published as Unrest and Funding Shortages Threaten Yemen School Feeding on Blogcritics.