Emergency school meals in drought-hit Mozambique
At the beginning of 2017, Southern Africa was still in the grip of a severe drought induced by one of the most intense El Niño effects to date. The situation was particularly devastating in Mozambique, where more than 2 million people needed immediate assistance, at the height of the lean season. With our 3- month support, the World Food Programme is providing 50,000 children enrolled in 110 schools in Cahora Bassa and Changara districts in Tete Province with hot meals. Meals are being prepared using 139 metric tons of fortified maize locally purchased, which in turn boosts agriculture in the country.
At the beginning of 2017, Southern Africa was still in the grip of a severe drought induced by one of the most intense El Niño effects to date. Crops had withered and livestock had been decimated. Staple food prices rose by 150% - more than the five-year average.The first months of the year corresponded also to the peak of the lean season, the time before harvests when cereal reserves become increasingly depleted. The situation was particularly devastating in Mozambique, with over 2 million people in need of immediate assistance. In Tete, one of the worst-hit provinces, 600,000 people were suffering from acute food insecurity.
We have supported WFP school meals programme in Mozambique since 2014. School meals provide a powerful incentive to send children (and especially girls) to school and to keep them in class, while ensuring students receive the nutrients they need to concentrate and learn more efficiently. In addition, the production and purchase of ingredients for school meals from local small-scale farmers boosts local agriculture and transforms food assistance into a sustainable investment for the whole community. The El Niño weather event has reduced rainfall across most of the region, leading to poor or failed harvests and threatening to interrupt the ongoing school meals programme.
Responding to this major food security crisis, we supported WFP in the purchase of 139 metric tons of locally-produced fortified maize which would be distributed as hot meals in 110 schools in Cahora Bassa and Changara, two vulnerable districts of Tete Province.
The provision of an emergency meal programme helped to make sure that children stayed in school in Tete Province, as there was a risk of a high drop-out rate if meals were not provided during class (the meals were the only nutritious food that they would receive during the day).
More specifically, 50,000 children in 110 schools in Cahora Bassa and Changara are benefiting from hot meals at school for three months.
WFP’s efforts are geared towards ensuring Government ownership of the school meals initiative, with a view to creating a nationally-funded and -managed home-grown school meals programme. A national school meals plan has already been approved and will gradually roll out to all pre-primary and primary schools in the country, starting from the most food-insecure areas.