Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Reinstatement of school feeding program welcomed

World Food Program  School Feeding Program 
Japan-approved grant of US$ 1.2 million to the Gambian people will make it possible for the United Nation's World Food Program to reinstate the much needed feeding program to schools in the North Bank and Central River Regions - two of the hardest hit food-deficient areas in the Gambia.

While welcoming both the grant by Japan and the efforts of the WFP that will make it possible to serve 50,000 hot meals to school children in two of the five regions of the country, we urge the UN agency to seek more counterpart funds from the government of Yaya Jammeh to finance the program across all the entire country.

The Jammeh family, particularly Mrs. Jammeh spends huge sums every month on traveling the globe which could be used on Gambian children.  Savings from one of her international trips alone could finance the reinstatement of the school feeding programs in the three other regions plus the Greater Banjul

The school feeding program was an integral part of Gambia's school system until Jammeh seized power illegally in 1994 when everything started going downhill, including others aspects of Gambian life.  The agricultural sector's lackluster performance, despite the numerous failed "Visions 2015/2016" that promised food self-sufficiency, resulted in a decline in cash and food crops with devastating impact. As a result, 600,000 or roughly a third of all Gambians have become food insecure which means that 33% of the population cannot afford three square meals a day - a serious indictment of a regime that touts its commitment to agricultural development and food self-sufficiency.

The Central River region of the country is more severely impacted by Jammeh's failed agriculture policy despite the rice cultivation that's is purportedly going on there.  Numerous cases of kwashiorkor, a sever form of malnutrition - an acute protein deficient condition - are reported in the Central River region which has received little publicity from a regime that is in the habit of concealing unpleasant and/unfavorable news.

Malnutrition is currently taking a devastating toll on the psycho social, emotional and educational development of the children, particularly those living in the rural areas - a problem that is one of the most under reported problems facing The Gambia.  A reinstatement of the school feeding program nationwide must be one of the top priorities of the regime of Yaya Jammeh.