Children in Burundi's northern province of Karusi who were likely to miss school because of hunger have started receiving meals at school through a major school-feeding programme by World Vision and the World Food Program (WFP).
Under the working agreement, lunch will be provided to children in 46 schools in the northern province of Karusi, 161 kilometres from the capital Bujumbura. The budget for the first phase is US$1.6 million.
The school feeding programme is mainly to encourage children, especially girls to attend school. In fact, the enrolment of girls in first grade is now over the number of boys - 2042 boys to 2061 girls. A successful and continuous program may help to maintain at least a balance between boys and girls attending school.
Construction of kitchens in 21 schools has been completed and work continues to complete water and kitchen facilities for the remaining 25 schools. 14,746 pupils in the 21 schools are already benefiting from the programme.
"We have waited so long to see the program start and now that the actual feeding of the children in school has started, children can stay in school much longer," says World Vision Burundi Director Maereg Tafere.
The country has suffered years of conflict and, in some areas, prolonged drought spells, which have grossly affected food production. Consequently, the UN agencies recently announced the Central African State was on the verge of a malnutrition crisis.
Maereg adds, "Apart from feeding the school children, the program provides education in agronomy, health, peace and reconciliation."
Each school has an agronomy garden where they practice agriculture and at the same time utilise the products to diversify their meals. World Vision will also provide children from the poorest families with educational materials, basic medicines for de-worming children, and blankets.
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