From 11 to 13 February, a delegation of representatives from the European Union, WFP, FAO and the Government visited the North Bank, Central and Upper River regions of The Gambia to observe progress of a three-year project aimed at improving food security in The Gambia. The project, supported by an EU contribution of 7.6 Euro, is jointly carried out by WFP, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and FAO. It provides school meals as well as support for farmers to increase local production. Agnes Guillaud (centre left) EU Chargee d'Affaires, stands with representatives from FAO and WFP in North Bank region during the visit.
The European Union has been a consistent donor of WFP's school meals programme in The Gambia since 2010. Thanks to this most recent contribution, approximatey 87, 000 children receive daily hot meals.
With the EU's support, FAO is working with women to set up year-round gardens. At the Darsilami Mandinka community garden in the Upper River Region, more than 200 women cultivate two hectares of vegetables.
The EU contribution is also hepling FAO support farmers growing staple foods such as rice and millet. In 2014, WFP plans to start purchasing food for the school feeding programme from local smallholders farmers. Linking farmers to school feeding helps support the rural economy and provides a reliable market for farmers, improving the programme's sustainability.
Students at Boraba Lower Basic school welcome the EU delegation. More than 200 students, including those at the Early Childhood Development centre, are receiving meals at the school thanks to the EU's funds. The school has also benefitted from a training on school gardening held in January this year.
At Boraba school, the community has been vital to the success of the school meals programme; cooks (pictured here), mothers' club, Food Management Committee and village elders are all involved. With this support, the school's garden master has started a fish pond to supplement daily schools meals for students.
EU Chargée d'Affaires Agnes Guillaud (right) presents learning materials to students at the Boraba Lower Basic School. School meals are crucial to improving attendance and performance in school. Studies show that it is more difficult for children to learn without adequate food and nutrition.