UN food agency appeals for 30 million to feed Angolan children

Nearly half of the children of Angola are severely malnourished and a high percentage of them in the heavily land-mined central highlands are stunted, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said, as it appealed for funds to feed 700,000 people in a country emerging from 27 years of civil war.“Many international donors think the crisis in Angola is over but a scenario is emerging that is every bit as destructive for children as the war itself,” WFP Country Director Rick Corsino said yesterday. “Angola risks losing a further generation of children – this time to malnutrition-related diseases like tuberculosis and pellagra – because we do not have enough funding to reach all those who need food assistance.”WFP said it needs at least $30 million to feed up to 700,000 people until the end of the year. Some 45 per cent of all children in Angola are severely malnourished and in the central highlands up to 52 per cent of children younger than five are stunted, a condition which negatively affects their ability to live a fully productive life.A recent WFP study indicated that hundreds of thousands of people in the central highlands, in particular, are suffering from chronic food insecurity and living on just one meal or less per day. The fertile central highlands region has one of the highest concentrations of landmines in the country, limiting the agricultural activities of those who have returned to their land.The incentive of a regular daily meal often persuades parents to send their children to school, compensating families for the loss of household help.“Providing meals to primary school children raises enrolment, increases attendance and reduces drop-outs,” Mr. Corsino said. “Children can concentrate and learn better when their energy needs are met.” WFP has been repeatedly forced to make significant ration cuts. Already nearly 400,000 people receiving WFP assistance through Food-For-Work programmes or resettlement packages have had their rations cut. Full rations are given only to children in WFP’s school feeding programmes, or to people suffering from such illnesses as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malnutrition.Meanwhile, adult literacy in Angola is among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, with just 42 per cent of the people able to read and write.

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