Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has set up 54 school gardens for the production of vegetables to be used in school meals for children in North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
It is understood that FAO, with financial support from the government of Germany, is working with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to give children healthy food in the areas.
‘FAO will provide vegetable seeds and install 54 school gardens for the production of vegetables in order to contribute to the canteens set up with [WFP DRC], [UNICEF DRC] to give children healthy food and diversified in North and South Kivu’, FAO said in a tweet.
Schoolchildren in DRC are often faced with numerous food and nutrition problems that severely impact their educational and learning outcomes.
According to Concern Worldwide, DRC had the fifth highest child stunting rates for 2021, with 41.8 percent of the country’s children reporting a low height based on malnutrition.
The WFP has also described the child hunger in DRC as a ‘corporate emergency’, with an estimated 3.4 million children acutely malnourished in the conflict-battered country.
Insufficient intake of food and nutrients at an early age puts schoolchildren at risk of stunted growth, poor brain development, weak learning and low immunity.
Research from World Vision International shows that healthy school meals encourages children to stay longer in school, contributing to improved learning conditions.
However, many Congolese schoolchildren do not have access to regular, healthy meals, data from the Congo Initiative shows.
FAO’s action is expected to help keep children in school and improve learning outcomes.
Photo source: FAO