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In Burkina Faso, School Meals Raise Enrolment, Improve Nutrition

Morning porridge

A pot of Supercereal porridge bubbles on the stove at the Gangaol Primary School in Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region, located in the northern tip of the country. WFP is providing school meals to all primary school children in this region, including one hot meal and a snack daily. This is vital in a region where food insecurity is high and enrolment levels low; 41 % of children here suffer from chronic malnutrition, and enrolment is at just 44 percent, far below the national average (80 percent).

From kitchen to classroom

After it has finished cooking, the porridge is carried to classrooms to be served to students. The use of Supercereal, a fortified blended food, provides many of the nutrients missing from students’ diets.

Bowls ready to be filled

Each child brings a bowl to school, which is then filled. A total of 100,000 students receive meals daily in the region, including 200 at the Gangaol school.

Community volunteers

Volunteers from the surrounding villages, often mothers of students, prepare and serve the meals. Though the Supercereal is an imported product, some 70 percent of the food (including maize and beans) for school feeding in 2012 was purchased on the local market in Burkina Faso, boosting the country’s economy.

Improving concentration

School meals keep children well-nourished and allow them to concentrate on their studies. Here, 7-year-old Omar shows how to draw a line with a ruler.

Washing hands

As soon as the morning break begins, students rush out of the classroom to wash their hands. Since there is no running water in the school, each child is asked to bring a bottle of water from home each day. They share a bar of soap.

Down to the last drop

A group of boys finishes up every last drop of porridge. WFP Burkina Faso’s school feeding program has seen impressive results: since its inception in 2004, enrolment rates in the country’s Sahel Region have risen from 37% to 44.4 % in 2012.

Boosting girls' enrollment

A group of girls enjoys a mid-morning snack of Supercereal porridge.  School meals provide a strong incentive for parents to send their children, especially girls, to school. In addition to school meals, WFP Burkina Faso provides monthly 10 kilogram take-home rations of maize or sorghum to 11,000 girls in the last two years of primary school as a further incentive to families to keep their girls in school. In Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region, enrolment among girls has increased substantially, from 32% percent in 2004 to 43 % in 2012

A nutritious break

There is little talk as students enjoy their bowls of warm porridge. WFP Burkina Faso is grateful to the Governments of Brazil, Germany, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, whose contributions have made the school meals programme in Burkina Faso possible. WFP requires US$ 5 million each year to sustain the programme.

Back to class

Aissatou Diallo, 11, carefully washes her bowl before class resumes. WFP Burkina Faso’s school feeding programme faces shortages in all commodities starting in January 2014; funding is urgently needed so that children like Aissatou continue to receive their school meals. A suspension of school meals in the middle of the year could have a drastic impact on drop-out rates.

WFP Burkina Faso provides school meals to 100,000 children in the Sahel Region of the country, where food insecurity is high and enrolment levels low. In addition to school meals, WFP provides monthly 10 kilogram take-home rations of maize or sorghum to girls in the last two years of primary school as an additional incentive to parents to keep their girls in school.