World Food Program, partner assess feeding program in Cotabato town

By
November 14 2012

Pikit town received a total of 30,816 bags of rice and 444 bags of beans for the whole duration of the feeding program.  WFP has allocated a total of 124,918 bags of rice and 2,505 bags of beans for the whole province.

By ALEX D. LOPEZ
Davao Today

PIKIT, Cotabato, Philippines — The World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations (UN) and its partner in Asia, the Yum group of companies, visited on Tuesday conflict and calamity affected villages here to assess its school feeding program.

WFP Philippines Deputy Country Director Asaka Nyangara personally visited the villages of Catilacan and Pamalian in Pikit town to assess the impact of the agency’s feeding programs for schoolchildren.

Pikit town received a total of 30,816 bags of rice and 444 bags of beans for the whole duration of the feeding program.  WFP has allocated a total of 124,918 bags of rice and 2,505 bags of beans for the whole province.

“The objective of the school feeding program is to help school children especially in areas greatly affected by conflicts and natural calamities,” Nyangara told reporters in a press conference held in Pamalian village.

He added they consider a program successful when children actually go to school to enroll, participate actively in classes, do their homework and eventually finish higher levels of schooling.

Delegation head Yasemin Okur of the Yum groups of companies in Asia said they have been in partnership with the WFP for six years.  She said Yum owns 5,000 stores such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut branches in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.  Okur said they also receive donations from their customers and from among themselves to support the feeding program of WFP.

“We are very happy to see the children here having a good chance of good childhood.  They can now go to school to learn and enjoy and we believe they will have better future,” Okur said.

Nyangara said Pikit was chosen for the program after it was identified as an area in Cotabato province where food insecurity is higher.  He cited the armed conflict in 2008 between the Moro rebels and the government troops that forced local residents to leave their homes.

The town is also vulnerable to flooding especially the villages situated near the banks of Pulangi River and the Liguasan Marsh.  In 2011, thousands were displaced in the low-lying villages due to floods.

The WFP program in Pikit is set to end in May 2014.  However, Nyangara said, they will consider an extension if their evaluation reveals that the people still need assistance.

Allan Matullano, WFP focal person of Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, said all 42 villages in Pikit are covered by the program.  This includes the 367 elementary pupils in Pamalian village and another 700 pupils in Catilacan village.

Matullano said that school feeding addresses the problem of children failing to go back to school because there is no lunch available in their homes.  “The school administration, the village leaders and the parents’ association prepare the food as local counterpart to the program,” Matullano said.

Pamalian village chief Mama Kongkong said his village is lucky to be among the recipients of WFP program.  The local leaders, he added, are active in supporting the school feeding program.  Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan is also grateful to WFP and the provincial government for the support extended to his town.  (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)

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