WFP Inaugurates pilot school bakery in Tajikistan

01/06/2016 10:41
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, June 1, 2016, Asia-Plus -- The inauguration of a bakery in Roghun’s School No.1 that aims to provide children in this school and eight others in the area with high-quality and nutrient-rich bread for their daily lunches was celebrated yesterday by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

According to WFP Country Office in Tajikistan, the schools are part of WFP’s school meals program, benefiting almost 370,000 schoolchildren in over 2,000 schools in rural Tajikistan.

“The school bakery, apart from the evident nutritional benefits and well-being of students, also presents an interesting economic opportunity for the community as a whole, boosting local markets through purchase of local produce, creating job opportunities and promoting agriculture,” said Saida Umarzoda, First Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection of Tajikistan. She also leads the Governmental Coordination Committee for School Feeding.

Representatives of the Russian Embassy in Dushanbe also attended the inauguration ceremony. 

This event marks a new phase of WFP’s school meals program in Tajikistan, as part of WFP’s new five-year plan for the country that came into effect last month.

“This is a great moment for our school feeding program in the country where we have the opportunity to showcase our achievements in developing local capacities by involving technical expertise and partnerships for better nutrition results and applying innovative ideas to make school meals preparation both cost and time effective,” said WFP Deputy Country Director in Tajikistan Andrea Bagnoli.  “This event is also an opportunity for WFP to celebrate key stakeholders, including the government and donors, for their strong commitment in supporting our efforts as we begin a new cycle of the school feeding program under the new country program.”

The municipal government of Roghun was actively involved in establishing the bakery, allocating funds for renovating the school where the bakery was installed.

WFP’s recently approved country program 2016-2020 aims to build the government’s capacity to run its own national program and ensure its future sustainability.  The school meals program is a key component of the country’s social protection system as a safety net for the rural and most food insecure areas.  It encourages development of local food production and adequate supply chains for home-grown school feeding.  The school bakery is expected to generate local job opportunities, particularly important given Tajikistan’s current economic challenges.

WFP began implementing school meals in Tajikistan in 1999 with only 5,000 schoolchildren in 33 schools and has been expanding ever since.  In 2016, WFP’s school meals program covers 60 percent of all rural schools in the country.

The Russian Federation has been a major donor to WFP Tajikistan’s school meals program since 2005 and actively supports the current transition process that will eventually leave the program’s management with the government.

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