The United States Government, through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has donated a US$20 million grant for school feeding in Liberia.
The donation was made Thursday, February 6, to the Ministry of Education (MOE) at a program held in Monrovia.
The US government grant, is expected to benefit over 127,000 primary students attending public schools in rural parts of the country.
According to the World Food Program (WFP), an initial contribution of US$ 6.3 million representing the first tranche (a portion of an investment or loan) has been provided.
Speaking earlier, the deputy country director of WFP, Wurie Alghassim, stated that two more tranches are expected over the next two academic years.
Mr. Alghassim stated the first tranche covers the cost of purchasing, shipping, handling and distribution of nearly 2,900 metric ton of assorted commodities.
He said the meals would provide an incentive for enrollment and daily school attendance.
According to him, it would contribute to learning achievement by tackling short term hunger, which can prevent children from paying attention to their lessons.
Making the donation, on behalf of her government, United States Ambassador, Deborah Malac said the USA intends to identify with the education of Liberia’s children by alleviating hunger in their lives.
“Children going to school where food is scarce find learning difficult. Malnutrition is a serious problem confronting these students; this is why the intervention is necessary,” she stated.
She said that it pleases her that the government of Liberia is a recipient of the grant.
Receiving the donation, the assistant minister for general administration at the MoE, Augustine V. Kimber thanked the American government for the donation.
He said that it would help increase enrollment and improve retention (having to do with thought, memory) rate in the various schools.
For her part, the country director of WFP, Madam Adama Diop Faye said that for the last 2-years mobilizing resources for school feeding has been a serious challenge.
She said because of that WFP was forced to rationalize the intervention and phase out the program in Lofa, Bong and Nimba counties.
Madam Faye, said that school feeding was the biggest program being undertaken by her institution in Liberia.
She said it meant to increase access to basic education for all Liberian children, enhance nutrition and promote a culture that appreciates Liberian agriculture through school gardens among other things.
She stated that they are currently running the school feeding program in nine of the 15 counties of Liberia.
She named the counties as: Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, River Gee, Maryland and Grand Kru counties.
Also speaking was the Agriculture Minister of Liberia, Dr. Florence Chenoweth said that school feeding is a priority for the government of Liberia.
“Feeding children in school is something that this government is highly devoted to doing so we can reduce hunger in the lives of schools children,” she disclosed.