The United Nations food relief agency on Wednesday kicked off a fundraising campaign, using a smartphone application, to provide school meals in a southern district of Malawi, where El Nino-induced drought has reduced crop yields.
“Starting today, the World Food Programme’s Share The Meal app will fundraise to support emergency food relief in Malawi, following one of the strongest El Nino weather events on record,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.
“The goal is to provide school meals for an entire year to 58,000 school children in Zomba, a district in southern Malawi severely affected by drought and experiencing high levels of food insecurity,” he said.
The children, aged 6-13 years, will receive a specially fortified porridge, through WFP’s school meals programme that supports the government of Malawi’s National Social Protection Programme, the spokesman said. “A daily hot meal at school has been shown to boost attendance and improve children’s ability to learn.”
“Malawi is in an extremely vulnerable situation, with estimates showing that more than one in three people will be food insecure over the next nine months,” Coco Ushiyama, country director of the World Food Programme (WFP), said in a news release.
“People around the world who have enough to eat can easily imagine the terrible impact that hunger has on children in such a situation,” she said, encouraging smartphone users to donate funds through the free ShareTheMeal app.
The app allows a donation of as little as 0.50 U.S. dollar a day. Estimates in Malawi show that for every one U.S. dollar spent on school meals, at least six U.S. dollars are returned in better health and productivity when these children become adults.
More than one third of children under the age of five in Malawi are stunted as a result of malnutrition. A Cost of Hunger in Africa study conducted in Malawi shows that child undernutrition costs Malawi more than 10 percent of gross domestic product per year.