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EC boosts food aid to Gambia

Oct 14, 2010, 12:36 PM | Article By: Alieu O. Jabang

In its continuous bid to fighting hunger in the world, especially in our schools, the European Union yesterday donated $3.2 million to the World Food Programme as part of its expansion of the Food for Education Project.

The donation, held at the Wold Food Programme Annex in Kanifing, also witnessed the handing over of 2, 910 out of a total of 3, 980 metric tonnes of food (rice, vegetable oil, peas and iodized salt) and cooking, serving and eating utensils to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. This is geared towards supporting the first year of the two-year expansion.

With the new donation, WFP can give daily meals over a two-year period to 58,000 additional children in early childhood development centres and 45 lower basic and basic cycle schools in most vulnerable urban areas. 

Speaking on the occasion, the officer in charge of the WFP in the Gambia, Patrick Peixeire, said the first batch of 2, 910 metric tonnes of food in the form of rice, vegetable oil, peas, iodized salt and cooking, serving and eating utensils are given out of 3,980 metric tonnes to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.

With the recent momentum at the highest levels to address hunger as one of the first priorities, he said, the time is right to generate greater impetus for the school feeding programme as an effective and sustainable solution to ending hunger.

"Thanks to renewed and strengthened partnership at the global and country levels, WFP is working closely with the government of the Gambia and its partners to develop and implement a new strategy and approach to schools," he said.

Sylvain Lequere representative of the EU charge d'Affaires, reiterated the fact that to secure the delivery of food to the children of 45 schools is without any doubt one of the noblest results a development project can achieve.

He noted that, in 2008, the world faced some food crises, which produced some dramatic consequences, especially in Africa and also in the Gambia.  This, he said, led to rapid response in a coherent manner to the catastrophe.

By doing so, he said, the EU and the Gambia government decided to commit 2.64 million Euro (equivalent to about 94 million dalasis) of the B-envelop to fund this project based on World Bank-FAO-WFP assessment.

Baboucarr Bouy, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, said the donated foodstuff will, no doubt, help in alleviating short term hunger in schools, and will greatly enhance the education policy goals of access, retention and quality.

"The creation of a conducive learning environment does not only require the provision of space, learning materials, adequate and appropriate teachers, but also the provision of school lunches," he added.

One Fatoumata Leigh, a student from Old Jeshwang Lower Basic School, delivered the vote of thanks.