School meals: an invaluable investment in Burundi’s next generation

A delegation comprised of Burundian Minister of Education, Japanese Ambassador to Burundi, WFP Country Director and Representative, the UN Resident Coordinator, Heads of UN agencies, NGOs and provincial authorities at the signitory ceremony between WFP and Japan. Photo: WFP/Didier Bukuru

On 19 February, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Japan signed a partnership agreement aiming to promote education, food security and nutrition in Burundi through the provision of daily school meals to students in areas most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition across the country.

Through this agreement, the Government of Japan commits to make available to WFP, over 250 metric tons of canned fish worth 12 months of nutritious meals, rich in animal proteins for 270,000 students in 300 schools.

Read below an account of the key moments surrounding the signatory event organised at the Michaela primary school in Bujumbura, Burundi.

From left to right: Virginia Villar Arribas, WFP Country Director and Representative, Takayuki MIYASHITA, Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi, Janiviere Ndirahisha, Minister of Education and Nadine GACUTI, Governor of Bujumbura at the signing ceremony in Michaela primary school, Bujumbura. Photo: WFP/Didier Bukuru

Dignitaries representing WFP, the Government of Japan and the Government of Burundi shared their views on this important partnership during the signatory event organised at the Michaela primary school in Bujumbura, Burundi.

“We are very grateful to the Government of Japan for this useful contribution that will enable us to provide students with nutritious food, helping them concentrate on their studies, improve their academic performance and have a healthier life,” said Virginia Villar Arribas, WFP Country Director and Representative in Burundi

“Food security is one of the main pillars that Japanese government focuses on and we are happy to support WFP” said Takayuki Miyashita, Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi. “School meals activity is an invaluable investment for the next generation in Burundi in hand with the country’s overall development. Japan will continue to contribute to the socioeconomic development of Burundi” he added.

“The consumption of fish by our children represent an important contribution to the fight against malnutrition. We reiterate our call to the Japanese Government to increase, in the future, the quantity of fish in order to cover the food needs of at least 600, 000 students in Burundi” said Janiviere Ndirahisha, Minister of Education.

From left to right: Minister of Education, WFP Country Director and Representative, Japanese Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi and Nadine GACUTI, Governor of Bujumbura Rural meet with school children at the end of the signing ceremony. Photo: WFP/Djaounsede Madjiangar
The Japanese Ambassador (left) and Burundi’s Minister of Education (right) share meals to the primary school children in Michaela school. Photos: WFP/Djaounsede Madjiangar/Didier Bukuru

Michaela primary school hosts 550 students and has been part of WFP’s school feeding programme since 2016. Overall in Burundi, WFP and its partners provide hot and nutritious meals to 700,000 students (1 in 4 school-aged children) in 800 primary schools.

In 2018, over 2,300 mt of food was locally purchased from smallholder farmers. This represents US$ 2.3 million invested in the local economy thanks to the generous contributions of the Government of Burundi, European Union, Monaco, Netherlands and the World Bank

14-year-old Aristide smiles as he receives his daily meal at Michaela primary school. Photo: WFP/Aurore Ushimwe

Two years ago, 14 year old Aristide had to stop going to school because of hunger.

“I used to help women who cook for fishermen by the Lake Tanganyika, by washing their dishes and doing other works and in the end they gave me food,” Aristide recalled. But thanks to the guarantee of a hot school meal Aristide is happy to be back to school and says he wants to do medical studies to become a doctor.

Since 2008, WFP and its partners have been implementing a Home -Grown School Feeding programme in provinces most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition in Burundi. This programme helps address school drop outs caused by hunger and poverty, contributes to improving child nutrition and stimulates agricultural production through local purchases to supply school canteens.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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