EU Commits €10 Million to Support WFP’s School Feeding Program in Afghanistan

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The European Union (EU) has allocated an additional €10 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to expand its school feeding initiatives in Afghanistan.

In a statement on Wednesday, May 29, the WFP welcomed the EU’s new contribution, noting that it will enable the organization to extend its school feeding program to three additional provinces with high levels of food insecurity in primary schools.

The statement indicates that the new funding will allow WFP to distribute fortified biscuits or locally produced nutritious school snacks to students in over 10,000 schools across the provinces of Farah, Ghor, Jawzjan, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktika, Uruzgan, and Zabul.

Additionally, the statement notes that schoolgirls in grades 4 to 6 will receive take-home rations, such as vegetable oil or cash for their families. “These rations enhance the nutrition of the entire family and encourage families to keep children in school,” the statement explains.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the humanitarian situation in the country has significantly worsened, making it one of the world’s most critical crises. According to the UN, over 23 million people now require urgent humanitarian assistance.

Women and children face even greater challenges due to the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s education, employment, and mobility.

This week, Save the Children reported that over 6 million children in Afghanistan, or six out of ten, will face crisis or emergency levels of hunger this year. The international humanitarian agency also projected that nearly 3 million children under the age of five in Afghanistan will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2024.

“Hunger can be a barrier to education. The additional EU funding to our long-standing partner WFP ensures that more children in Afghanistan receive nutritious food. This is essential for them to have the energy and focus they need to learn effectively and stay healthy,” said Raffaella Iodice, EU Chargée d’Affaires to Afghanistan.

“If these meals encourage parents to prioritize school attendance, this is benefiting everyone,” she added.

The statement quoted Hsiao-Wei Lee, WFP Country Director in Afghanistan, as saying that the organization initiated its school feeding program in Afghanistan over two decades ago to link food security and better nutrition with education.

“Last year, WFP supported 1.5 million school-aged children through this programme and the European Union has been a key partner in helping us reach them.”

According to WFP, the latest EU funding follows a previous contribution of over €20 million towards WFP’s school feeding program in Afghanistan for 2022 and 2023. “This timely funding prevents WFP from having to downsize its school feeding program this year due to a lack of funds,” the UN agency said.