The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) recently inaugurated a kitchen with a store at the Farato-Busumbala Lower Basic School in the West Coast Region District of Kombo South. The project, funded by the European Union (EU) in collaboration with World Food Programme (WFP), will enhance the school feeding programme in that school.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the country representative of WFP, Victoria Ginja, affirmed that the project is supported by the EU Delegation under its Urban Expansion Initiative of the school feeding programme. With the EU funding, according to Ginja, the WFP has been able to build five school kitchens, toilets as well as establishing water sources for schools within the region.
She said the inaugural ceremony reaffirmed their commitment to not just providing food assistance, but also securing the necessary tools that are conductive to education and a healthy environment fit for school feeding. "For over 40 years, the WFP activities have centered on a community-based school feeding. However, in recent months steady progress has been made towards establishing a transition towards a nationally owned school feeding programme. The ceremony therefore serves as a stepping stone towards that direction," she pointed out.
The WFP rep then applauded the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education for strides it continuously take towards investing in the future of the children of this country. Ginja urged the students to make good use of the facilities, especially the school garden, which she said can greatly complement the school meals and ensure a healthy nutritious diet.
The director of Basic and Secondary Education, Amie Colleh-Mbaye, registered her Ministry's sincere gratitude and appreciation to both the WFP and the EU for this laudable gesture. "The availability of a permanent kitchen structure with a store will enhance the conductive environment for the preparation of food for the school children," She said.
Director Mbaye further said the importance of school meals cannot be overemphasised, noting that it is a well known fact that some pupils return to school only when the kitchen is operational. She pointed out that the availability of meals in a hygienic and appropriate kitchen has the advantage of maintaining attendance and taking care of short-term hunger to enable children concentrate on their learning.
The optimal use of the new kitchen, according to the Basic and Secondary Education director, will not only motivate children to learn and stay in school, but also encourage parents to send their children to school and keep them from dropping out. She thanked the WFP country representative and her staff for facilitating such a magnanimous gesture from the EU.
The head teacher of Farato-Busumbala LBS, Fatou Cham, thanked the EU and WFP for working relentlessly towards the development of the school.She said the gift came at a time when they were badly in need of a kitchen, noting that the structure will have a positive impact on the lives and education of the children.
"With a well structured kitchen and store, good meals will be produced and feeding will not be a problem. This will definitely encourage students to concentrate on the teaching and learning so as to produce good results at the end of the day," she concluded.