Nigeria launches school feeding program

Originally published
ABUJA, Sept 26, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Monday launched a home-grown school feeding program aimed at improving the nutritional intake by at least 25 million children of school age in Africa's most populous country.
"Nigeria is making a statement that it cares about her children and the future of the nation," Obasanjo said while launching the program at a primary school in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

A total of 2.5 million children or 10 percent of the total population of primary school children are expected to take part in the pilot phase of the program aimed at providing one meal per school day for every child in Nigerian schools.

Obasanjo said the program could not only increase school enrollment and completion rates particularly of children in rural communities and poor urban neighborhoods, but also stimulate local food production and boost the income of farmers.

He thanked local and international partners for supporting " this veritable investment in the future of Nigeria."

Nigeria had launched the free universal basic education in 1999 to ensure all children have an opportunity to be educated but funding seems to have become part of the problems for the execution.

Obasanjo however said his government followed the project up with implicit commitment. "Today can confirm that statutory funding is available to execute the project," he insisted.

An oil-rich country, Nigeria earns billions of dollars from oil exports per year but about 70 percent of its 130-million- population still live in abject poverty.