• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR uses food to boost class attendance in camps for Angolans

News Stories, 19 November 2009

© UNHCR/L.Taylor
A cheerful young Angolan refugee takes a break from classes in Zambia.

LUSAKA, Zambia, November 19 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency, with technical support from the World Food Programme (WFP), has embarked on a school feeding programme to increase classroom attendance and reduce malnutrition at two settlements for Angolan refugees in Zambia.

The programme was launched earlier this month in Meheba and Mayukwayukwa in north-western and western Zambia. The two settlements have a combined refugee population of about 25,000. Most buy or grow their own food, while WFP continues to assist some 3,000 of the most vulnerable.

The number of people still receiving food rations was cut from 15,000 last year to the current 3,000 in a bid to promote self-sufficiency among the refugees, many of whom have been living in the settlements for some four decades.

But UNHCR subsequently noticed a drop in school attendance as families weaned off the assistance sent their children out to help grow or search for food, rather than attend classes. Figures for 2008 showed total enrolment at 45-65 percent, depending on the time of year, and a drop-out rate of 10-25 percent.

There are currently some 3,500 children of school age in Mayukwayukwa and 5,500 in Meheba. But UNHCR figures show that only about 6,000 are regularly attending school. The aim is to ensure that all 9,000-10,000 children attend classes.

Under the programme, UNHCR has supplied stoves and kitchen equipment to 14 primary schools in Meheba and eight in Mayukwayukwa and will regularly deliver enough ingredients to provide one meal of porridge a day to 6,000 children. The programme is due to last six months but UNHCR hopes to find funding to extend this.

"We want to make sure all refugee children have access to education at all times and the provision of food will promote attendance at schools in the two settlements. This school feeding programme will also assist in improving the overall nutritional status of refugee children," explained Kristine Hambrouck, UNHCR's senior programme officer in Zambia.

"We have a lot of children coming forward," she said, while adding that drop-out rates were normally higher at this time of year, when the rainy season starts and there is little farming.

WFP has provided technical support, including the food procurement. It also facilitated the training of cooks from among the refugee community.

By Kelvin Shimo in Lusaka, Zambia

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Food and Nutrition

UNHCR strives to improve the nutritional status of all the people it serves.

Education

Education is vital in restoring hope and dignity to young people driven from their homes.

DAFI Scholarships

The German-funded Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative provides scholarships for refugees to study in higher education institutes in many countries.

Chad: Education in Exile

UNHCR joins forces with the Ministry of Education and NGO partners to improve education for Sudanese refugees in Chad.

The ongoing violence in Sudan's western Darfur region has uprooted two million Sudanese inside the country and driven some 230,000 more over the border into 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Although enrolment in the camp schools in Chad is high, attendance is inconsistent. A shortage of qualified teachers and lack of school supplies and furniture make it difficult to keep schools running. In addition, many children are overwhelmed by household chores, while others leave school to work for local Chadian families. Girls' attendance is less regular, especially after marriage, which usually occurs by the age of 12 or 13. For boys and young men, attending school decreases the possibility of recruitment by various armed groups operating in the area.

UNHCR and its partners continue to provide training and salaries for teachers in all 12 refugee camps, ensuring a quality education for refugee children. NGO partners maintain schools and supply uniforms to needy students. And UNICEF is providing books, note pads and stationary. In August 2007 UNHCR, UNICEF and Chad's Ministry of Education joined forces to access and improve the state of education for Sudanese uprooted by conflict in Darfur.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Chad: Education in Exile

Education for Displaced Colombians

UNHCR works with the government of Colombia to address the needs of children displaced by violence.

Two million people are listed on Colombia's National Register for Displaced People. About half of them are under the age of 18, and, according to the Ministry of Education, only half of these are enrolled in school.

Even before displacement, Colombian children attending school in high-risk areas face danger from land mines, attacks by armed groups and forced recruitment outside of schools. Once displaced, children often lose an entire academic year. In addition, the trauma of losing one's home and witnessing extreme violence often remain unaddressed, affecting the child's potential to learn. Increased poverty brought on by displacement usually means that children must work to help support the family, making school impossible.

UNHCR supports the government's response to the educational crisis of displaced children, which includes local interventions in high-risk areas, rebuilding damaged schools, providing school supplies and supporting local teachers' organizations. UNHCR consults with the Ministry of Education to ensure the needs of displaced children are known and planned for. It also focuses on the educational needs of ethnic minorities such as the Afro-Colombians and indigenous people.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Education for Displaced Colombians

Emergency food distribution in South Sudan's Jonglei state

Humanitarian organizations in South Sudan are working to deliver emergency assistance to some of the tens of thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in Jonglei state. Most of those uprooted have fled into the bush or have walked for days to reach villages away from the fighting. Others have journeyed even greater distances to find sanctuary in the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Gaining access to those affected in an insecure and isolated area has been a significant challenge for aid workers. Since mid-July, an airlift has been providing food supplies to families living in two previously inaccessible villages and where humanitarian agencies have established temporary bases. As part of the "cluster approach" to humanitarian emergencies, which brings together partners working in the same response sector, UNHCR is leading the protection cluster to ensure the needs of vulnerable individuals among the displaced are addressed.

Emergency food distribution in South Sudan's Jonglei state

Beyond 'Those People'Play video

Beyond 'Those People'

Young people in remote regions of Colombia's Tolima department are at high risk of displacement and recruitment. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has set up education projects to support and protect children and youth. This project has been carried out as part of the EU's Children of Peace initiative, which uses the money from the EU's 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to help children affected by conflict.
Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan SurvivorsPlay video

Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan Survivors

The Philippine island of Cebu receives thousands of evacuees from Typhoon Haiyan's worst-affected areas. They are registered at a transit centre and given cooked food and clothes donated by the community. All have harrowing stories of survival.
Iraq: UN Chiefs Visits Syrian Refugees  
Play video

Iraq: UN Chiefs Visits Syrian Refugees

High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, and Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, see the latest influx of Syrian refugees in Northern Iraq.