WFP Zambia Country Director Pablo Recalde presents a trophy to a winning school during a Walk the World 2011 soccer tournament in Lusaka. Photo:WFP/Mark Maseko
Hundreds of people including school-going children and UN MDGs Ambassador Marsha Moyo joined the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its global partners, TNT, Unilever and DSM at the end of May to commemorate the annual “End Hunger: Walk the World” event to raise awareness about child hunger.
As Manchester United and Barcelona were preparing to face off in the UEFA Champions League, Lusaka was witnessing a children’s football tournament - and saying ‘No’ to hunger. This was End Hunger; Walk the World, an annual global advocacy event to raise awareness about the issue of child hunger.
The cheers could be heard from miles away. Over 350 children all congratulating and encouraging each other as they competed in WFP Zambia’s Fight Hunger Trophy. Teams from eight WFP-assisted community schools participated in the tournament. This year’s celebrations in Zambia attracted more than 500 people, with a mixture of school children, WFP Zambia partners, WFP global partners DSM, Unilever and TNT, UN staff and members of government.
Davies Sampa, Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Vice President was the guest of honor and said attaining the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing hunger by 2015 remained a top priority for the government through programmes such as school meals. He said that the government this year donated 15,000 metric tonnes of maize to WFP Zambia to be used to feed up to one million children in 2011.
“Attaining the MDGs remains a priority for our government under the leadership of President Rupiah Bwezani Banda", said Mr. Sampa. "It is for this reason that government has decided to partner with WFP under the Home Grown School Feeding initiative to reduce hunger by 2015 through a donation of 15,000 metric tonnes of maize.”
Meanwhile, WFP Country Director Pablo Recalde said that it was unacceptable that close to one billion people across the globe should go to bed hungry when means to assist them were available. Mr. Recalde also lamented the high levels of stunting in Zambia which stood at 45 % while undernourishment was at 15%. He said if a child was not well developed, he or she would not be able to compete in a competitive world.
“As WFP, working with partners such as the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC), we are focusing on the first 1,000 days which is from birth to two years while we are also providing hot nutritious school meals to 300,000 school going children and we hope to increase this number to one million this year, ” he said.
And Unilever Zambia Country Manager Johnston Gapu said that companies should not just make profits but should engage in corporate social responsibility and assist the vulnerable, particularly children. In a speech read on his behalf by Customer Services Officer Josephine Gondwe, Mr. Gapu said that Unilever would continue supporting worthy causes such as Walk the World.
The event was a fun-filled day for the whole family, including visits from musicians, drama skits, children’s games, a jumping castle, music and several quizzes on hunger and malnutrition with educational prizes.
All school children received a bag of food and drinks donated by WFP and private sector sponsors including Unilever, Pharmalat, Zammilk, Vineyard, Shoprite, Heinrich’s Beverages, Sunrise Biscuits Ltd and Invesco Ltd. Staff members also contributed through their Staff Association.
In the lead-up to this year’s event, representatives from WFP and the National Food and Nutrition Commission (NFNC) visited five community schools in Lusaka to raise awareness of hunger and give nutrition education presentations. Kenneth Chola, Senior Programme Assistant for Education and coordinator of the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Programme, says that WFP does not just want to give food to schools, rather WFP tries to compliment the food with reinforced nutrition education.
With strong support from the Zambian media, Walk the World was publicized in the Daily Mail, Radio Phoenix, Times of Zambia and on ZNBC TV, Muvi TV, Radio Q FM, Yatsani Radio.
Since its inception in 2003, Walk the World has mobilised more than one million people across 24 time zones around the globe. Walk the World was started by TNT in 2003 as an employee engagement day to support WFP’s efforts to feed children in schools. It is now organized globally by WFP in partnership with its global partners TNT, Unilever and DSM.