#Article (Archive)

Walking for food

Jun 16, 2010, 11:31 AM

Tens of thousands of people recently took to the streets in cities around the world to show their support for the work of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in the fight against global hunger.

The annual walk, which is a global initiative mobilised an estimated 150,000 people to raise awareness and funds for WFP's school meals programmes.

It aims to raise enough money to provide a whole year of meals for 10,000 school-going children.

Walk the World is an excellent example of how global partnerships, including those with the private sector, can make a huge impact in the fight against hunger.

The Walk the World is a vital nourishment, as school meals serve as a safety net for poor families, and also help keep children in school.

Among the poor, there is often not enough food at home, and most schools in developing countries lack canteens or cafeterias.

School meals are a good way to channel vital nourishment to poor children, as having a full stomach also helps them to concentrate better on their lessons.

In countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrolment and promotes regular attendance.

Parents are motivated to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home to work or care for siblings.

In the poorest parts of the world, a school meal programme can double primary school enrolment in one year. Among the key beneficiaries are girls, who otherwise may never be given the opportunity to learn.

It's important to remember how crucial child feeding programmes are for reconstruction of a society.

However, low funding for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is stopping school-feeding programmes in their tracks. In many countries, child-feeding programmes are at risk.

Eradicating hunger, part of the MDG No.1, is the key to development. While people are hungry, all other development activities are thwarted. The hungry can concentrate little until their next meal. Hungry mothers give birth to hungry children, who if they live long enough, grow into hungry adults.

Although the proportion of hungry people in the world has declined over the past few years, the actual number of undernourished people has been rising for the past decade, mainly due to population growth and demand from the developing world.

WFP's food assistance can also play an important role in meeting another five of the eight MDGs: empowering women, reducing child and maternal mortality, improving maternal health, combating AIDS and ensuring environmental sustainability.

A school meal contributes over the long-term to combating poverty, but it also helps to reduce disease. It provides a platform for directly addressing child health and nutrition. It can also be a platform for other health interventions.

We, therefore, see the need for more people to support this kind of initiative so as not to allow the school-feeding programme to die out.

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."