Lilongwe — The UK Government, through UKaid, has contributed US$7.8 million (£5 million pounds sterling) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help provide school meals to children in Malawi.
The contribution will benefit nearly 770,000 children in 683 primary schools in food-insecure districts of central and southern Malawi. It will also enable WFP to support more than 5,000 children in 35 Community-based Childcare Centres, and provide take-home rations for more than 24,000 girls and orphan boys in primary schools.
"Providing a daily ration of Likuni Phala (locally-made corn soya blend) for children at school means they get the food they need to concentrate on their lessons," says Dr. MacPhil Magwira, Malawi Secretary for Education. "It also means that they are more likely to stay in school and get an education, which will help them move out of poverty."
Under WFP's school meals programme, children receive a daily mid-morning serving of fortified Super Cereal (Likuni Phala) porridge which gives them vital sustenance so they can concentrate on their lessons.
"We are aware that this is a difficult time for Malawi and Malawians, with food insecurity in parts of the country and rising prices of maize and other essential commodities. The UKaid support for school feeding is part of our efforts to help protect the most vulnerable, particularly children," says Sarah Sanyahumbi, Head of DFID Malawi. "We are also aware that, when facing food shortages, households sometimes have to resort to taking children out of school to look for food or work, or providing fewer or lower quality meals. We hope these school meals, alongside the ongoing cash and food transfers in the most affected areas, will help reduce the need for families to cope in ways which compromise their children's future."
Schools which provide these regular meals are also shown to have better enrolment and attendance records. Monthly take-home rations of maize are also given out during the lean season (January-March) to girls and orphaned boys in standards 7-8 as an incentive to reduce dropping out from school.
"School Meals contribute to increasing the percentage of girls and boys accessing and completing pre-primary and primary education," says WFP Country Director a.i. Baton Osmani. "During times of food shortage, school meals are a crucial safety net to protect children from hunger, and ensure that the education process is not disrupted."
This contribution will enable the continuation of school meals in 13 districts in southern and central Malawi. Food insecurity was the main criterion for selecting the districts.