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French Ambassador Sees Impact of WFP Assistance In Burkina Faso’s Sahel Region

French Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Gilles Thibault, hands over ready-to-use food to Aissatou Boureima for her malnourished baby.

Copyright: WFP/ Isabel Pike

A visit by French Ambassador to Burkina Faso Gilles Thibault to the Sahel region of Burkina Faso at the end of November provided an opportunity to see various facts of WFP’s work there, including nutrition and school feeding.

In his first WFP field visit, the ambassador – accompanied by WFP’s Burkina Faso Country Director Angelline Rudakubana - saw the impact of France’s contributions on WFP operations. France is one of WFP’s main donors for Burkina Faso, contributing  €6.3 million (US$8.67 million) for malnutrition prevention and treatment activities between 2010 and 2013.

The visit began at a WFP warehouse in the Sahel region’s capital, Dori, which is managed jointly by WFP and the Government. Stored there are stocks of rice, cowpeas and oil, some of it purchased from local farmers.

The French ambassador then travelled to the village of Gangaol, 25 kilometers away, to see a primary school and health centre. The school in Gangaol is one of 800 primary schools where WFP provides a hot morning snack and lunch daily (in all, to some 100,000 children). Girls in the last two years of primary school also receive 10 kgs take-home rations of either maize or sorghum, giving their parents additional incentive to send them to school and keep them there.

“The school has 200 students, half of them girls,” said school headmaster Issiaka Hamidou . “We’ve seen an increasing number of girls enrolled in the school and I believe that is at least partly due to the food they receive at the end of each month.”

At Gangaol’s health centre, WFP provides nutrition assistance to children aged 6 to 59 months as well as to pregnant and nursing women with moderate acute malnutrition. In 2013, France contributed €1.75 million (US$2.4 million) for the purchase of Plumpy’Sup, a ready-to-use food for the treatment of child malnutrition.

“Both boys and girls should be enrolled and then complete primary school,” said the ambassador. “Girls should not be taken out of school to be married. It is very important for their health as well as for the future of the country.”

Following the visit to Gangaol, the ambassador visited a project designed by the Mayor’s office to improve and protect the wetland around Dori. WFP supports the project through Cash for Assets, a programme that pays people to work on projects for the whole community.

The last visit of the day was to a Malian refugee site at Goudebou where WFP provides food and nutrition assistance to refugees that have fled violence and instability in northern Mali. The ambassador toured the camp and talked to a refugee family and heads of refugee representative groups.

To continue its operations in Burkina Faso in 2014, WFP requires some US$35 million.