Dhaka – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received a vital shipment of wheat from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will be used to produce nutritious biscuits to provide 350,000 pre-primary and primary school children with a daily snack for the coming year.
The shipment of 10,440 metric tons of wheat arrived in Chittagong Port on 6 September , and will be offloading its precious cargo starting from 11 September. This contribution is part of the USDA’s three-year commitment of US$30 million to WFP’s school feeding activities.
To mark the donation, an event was held today at the Chittagong Port silo, where the bulk wheat will be offloaded and stored until it is converted into biscuits. Ms Christa Räder, WFP Representative, oversaw the ceremonial handover of wheat from the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, His Excellency Mr. Dan Mozena to Honourable State Minister, Mr. Md Motahar Hossain, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.
“This shipment will enable WFP to continue reaching children in the most poverty prone areas of Bangladesh,” said Christa Räder, WFP Representative in Bangladesh. “The strong support provided by USDA is helping children who would not otherwise be able to get an education with the opportunity to attend school regularly and to have the much needed micronutrient intake to grow up healthy.”
School feeding provides an incentive to parents to send children to school, and promotes regular attendance to complete primary education. USDA, through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme, is the largest donor to WFP’s school feeding activities globally. Since 2001, USDA has provided US$68 million to school feeding in Bangladesh.
At the handing-over ceremony in Chittagong today, Ambassador Mozena said, “Our celebration today is about more than a mountain of donated wheat from America. We celebrate today partnership. Partnership between America and Bangladesh to nurture the children of Bangladesh, partnership to nurture the development of Bangladeshi children both physically and mentally, partnership to build the nation’s citizens of tomorrow.”
According to an evaluation of WFP’s school feeding activities in Bangladesh, schools that benefited from the programme showed an increase in enrolment by 9 percent and regular attendance by 8 percent. The programme is also having a substantial effect on reducing micronutrient deficiencies – which affect children’s ability to learn and fight diseases – through the provision of biscuits fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
In September 2011, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education launched the National School Feeding Programme in Poverty Prone Areas, initially reaching 55,000 children. Within only one year, coverage is now up to 1.4 million children in the poorest regions of the country. WFP has a dedicated team working with the ministry to support the scale-up and gradual hand over of this programme to the government. The US Government is the first and only donor supporting capacity building efforts in this regard, with a contribution of USD1.5 million to date.
Mr. Md. Motahar Hossain, MP, Honourable State Minister said,“ the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education has been working closely with WFP in the implementation of the School Feeding Programme. The programme is significantly contributing to improving enrolment and attendance and reducing drop outs. Considering the effectiveness of the programme the Government is going to expand the School Feeding Programme in one hundred new poverty prone Upazillas in the coming year. We always welcome the assistance of development partners. Thank you to the USDA for this assistance to the school feeding programme”.
For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
Christa Räder, WFP/Dhaka, Tel. +880-2-8116344-48 or 8119064-73
Annica Ojermark, WFP/Dhaka, Tel. +880-2-8116344 or 8119064-73 ext. 2164, Mob. + 88–01727152527