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UN SALUTES CAPE VERDE’S FULL OWNERSHIP OF FREE SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAMME

By UN

7 September - Cape Verde's Government took full ownership of its free meals programme for schoolchildren today after more than three decades of collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), with the United Nations agency voicing hope that it will set an example for other developing countries to follow.

The archipelago becomes the first country in West Africa and the 38th overall to make the transition to complete national ownership of the school meal programme, which WFP has been running for 45 years.

“The leadership and commitment by the Cape Verdean Government to the future of hungry children is exemplary, a success story we can all be proud of and one we'd like to replicate around the world,” said the agency's Executive Director Josette Sheeran today at a celebration in Rome marking the transition.

Nearly 80,000 Cape Verdean schoolchildren have been receiving free meals under this programme, which operates in at least 60 countries and provides meals for an estimated 22 million pupils worldwide.

The school meal programme is seen as particularly effective because, aside from the nutritional benefit to participants, it boosts class attendance and allows children to concentrate better during lessons.

The programme began in Cape Verde in 1979, four years after the country gained independence, with WFP providing the entire financial, operational and logistical support. Since 2007 the Government has started taking over the management of the programme and this year its funding share reached 100 per cent.