LIBYA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has partnered with the government of Libya to launch a feeding program targeting 7,000 school going children.
The initiative, undertaken by the Ministry of Education (MoE) of the Libyan Government of National Unity, has set up a central kitchen project in the Garyounis School in Benghazi to serve 13 schools across the city.
Through this programme, the MoE in collaboration with WFP aims to enhance the children’s ability to learn, as well as increasing attendance and retention rates in some of the most rural parts of the country.
Under the partnership, WFP has provided essential kitchen equipment as well as trainings on meal preparation, handling, and packing to some 30 young people from the community, around 12 of whom are women.
The children will receive a lunch box consisting of a sandwich, fresh fruit, a dairy drink, a fortified date bar and clean water at school every day.
The contents of lunch boxes are chosen based on the food available locally and its nutritional benefits.
Dr. Saif Al-Nasr AbdulSalam from the Ministry of Education’s Department of International Cooperation said, “Access to basic education and nutritious food is every child’s right.
“The MoE is extremely delighted with this accomplishment, and we hope to implement this project in other parts of the country so that more children have access to education and nutritious food,” he added.
Other than offering nutrition meals to the children, the project is set to benefit the local communities i.e., smallholder farmers and traders, generate income, especially at a time when the nation is reeling under the economic impacts caused by COVID-19.
“This is a milestone for children who live in the most rural parts of Libya. An investment in school feeding is an investment in the health, education and future of a child as well as the future of the nation.
“While this programme benefits children, we will also boost the local economy by procuring food from local traders and smallholders as well as create job opportunities in communities surrounding the central kitchen,” said Rawad Halabi, WFP Representative and Country Director in Libya.
Leveraging the momentum established through a Memorandum of Understanding with the MoE, WFP will also assist some 40,000 schoolchildren by providing date bars fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Going forward, WFP will also focus on delivering social behaviour change communications on nutrition-sensitive practices to targeted children and their families.
This will be carried out through the School Feeding Programme in collaboration with the MoE, the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund and other NGO partners.
Since 2019, WFP has been supporting the School Feeding Programme in Libya as part of its broader efforts to improve child nutrition, where more than 18,000 school-children were assisted in 58 public schools in four municipalities in Eastern and Southern Libya.
Between April to August 2020, when schools closed due to COVID-19, WFP distributed fortified date bars to some 18,000 schoolchildren as take-home rations.