Belet -Hawa located along the border in Gedo Region shares a long insecure border line with Kenya and Ethiopia. Cyclic drought, armed conflict, limited services and severe food insecurity are key recurrent problems experienced in the district. Children have been the ones to bear the brunt of food insecurity as they are prone to malnourishment. As the children struggle to concentrate in class, their schooling suffers, leading to high levels of truancy.
To improve the health and learning capacity of 7,177 children enrolled in 22 schools, Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) implemented a school feeding program supported by World Food Programme (WFP). The target schools are vulnerable community schools with no access to such crucially needed support. The children are provided with two nutritious hot meals daily.
A frenzy of excitement is heard in the dusty yard of Baletamin Primary school. Small eager hands stretch out in queues as they wait to be served. Not being sure of what they will have for dinner, lunchtime for these children means they get an opportunity to access food rich in nutrients which meets the dietary demands. The head teacher tells us that most children in the school are from vulnerable households and therefore heavily reliant on such programs that contribute significantly to their daily nutrients requirements.
“The school feeding program has contributed significantly to pupils’ retention and enrolment compared to schools not supported by the program. The school has seen an increase in enrolment and improved individual academic performance, as the children now observe high levels of attentiveness and has reduced absenteeism due to illness associated with malnutrition. “says the school head teacher.
This daily meal provision at the school has provided parents with a strong incentive to send their children to attend classroom sessions and access quality education service. Food for their children is one less thing parents have to worry about.
Amina, a parent of four students at the school, says, “Looking for nutritious food for ten children is not easy, many times we survive on only one meal a day. My family and I have been relying on food aids, which sustains us for only a short period; however, the school feeding program introduced by NAPAD has motivated me to send and ensure that my children remain in school. After all, the future belongs to them. If I fail to prepare them, then the vicious cycle of poverty will never end. We are truly grateful to NAPAD for coming to our aid.”