ROME, SEPTEMBER 13 – One in eight primary school-aged children do not attend school in Mali, and only one third of those who do attend are girls. Education in the north of the country has also been disrupted by the conflict. School meals have encouraged children to return and stay in school. WFP normally provides a hot meal to 180,000 primary school children in almost 1,000 schools nationwide. This is often the only meal they get. Due to lack of funding, in 2016 WFP could only implement the programme in 60 percent of the schools in central and northern regions. Now some help is coming from the Italian Cooperation: “I have arranged for an immediate half-million-euro contribution to the World Food Program to fund a school meal programme in Mali,” announced the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano.
“This kind of programs represent an important educational instrument by enabling children to have at least one nutritious meal a day, relieving families from further expenses and favouring regular school attendance, Alfano added. The project falls under the UN humanitarian response plan for 2017 and focuses on the areas of Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, targeting approximately 25,500 students in 140 schools, singled out in the areas most hard-hit by conflict and food insecurity. Alfano stressed that “this initiative does not exhaust our humanitarian commitment in Mali, where new programmes will be implemented in the upcoming months.” (@OnuItalia)