This week the White House posted a story about building a “comprehensive approach to Yemen.” The report cited the effort to build international cooperation in this regard, through the Friends of Yemen group.
Development is a key aim of the Friends of Yemen. What better place to start than with school feeding for children. Any hopes of development rest on stopping hunger and malnutrition among children. When you combine life-changing food with education, you are giving children a chance to succeed.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) runs a Food for Education initiative to provide take-home rations for 115,000 school girls in Yemen. By providing the food, girls are encouraged to attend class. Their entire family benefits from the rations so the incentive is clearly there for school attendance.
The problem is WFP’s Food For Education has only had one limited distribution since June, 2009 because of low funding. Before that, high food prices dealt a shock and forced some rations to be reduced. So Food for Education has suffered setback after setback.
Georgia Warner of WFP Yemen said, “We have absolutely nothing in our pipeline right now for the Food for Education operation and we’re watching a drop-out rate of nearly 60% as families can no longer afford to keep their children, of course mostly daughters, in school.”
The Friends of Yemen could restore Food for Education as part of the development strategy. Children in Yemen desperately need this program.
A WFP Food Security Analysis from earlier this year showed:
–There is a very clear and strong link between education and nutritional status.The less educated the household head, the more likely the household is to be challenged by malnutrition in women and children. Similarly, the less educated the mother, the higher the likelihood of her children being acutely malnourished.
—Educational levels in Yemen remain considerably low, with illiteracy rates reaching 45.9 percent at the national level, 26.9 percent among men and 65.3 percent among women.
—At the time of the survey 31.5 percent of the population or 6.8 million Yemenis were found
to be food-insecure, meaning that they had limited or no access to sufficient, nutritious food and were eating a poor or borderline diet according to internationally set standards. Two of the nineteen governorates, Al-Jawf and Saada, could not be included in the survey because of security concerns and lack of access. If the national average prevalence of food insecurity were to be applied to those two governorates, the total number of food-insecure Yemenis would reach 7.2 million
Food for Education, take-home rations as well as school meals, can chart the course for development in Yemen. WFP needs funding to get it started again and to keep it running. The Friends of Yemen can be the answer.
You can donate to the World Food Programme at the USA site.