Meal cutback in Ivory Coast may fuel unrest: WFP


The amount of food given to 430 000 schoolchildren in Ivory Coast has been cut in half due to lack of funding, and the World Food Programme (WFP) said it could fuel unrest in the world’s top cocoa grower.

“Unless we secure $6 million in funding soon we will have to completely cut rations in April,” WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella told a briefing. The funds would cover the programme until June.
“There is concern for social cohesion and stability. When people are hungry it can affect the stability of an area,” she added.

Nearly 50 percent of children in parts of north and west Ivory Coast suffer from chronic malnutrition, the United Nations agency said.

Long-delayed elections in the West African nation sparked violent protests last month after President Laurent Gbagbo disbanded the government and electoral commission.

The opposition announced on Feb. 26 it was joining the new government and called off the protests in the country, where crisis has persisted since a 2002-03 civil war split it in two.
“This sharp reduction in food rations is most unfortunate since it takes place at a time when the country is on a critical path in the peace process,” Thomas Yanga, WFP’s regional director for West Africa, said in a statement.

Food assistance to 22 500 children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, who are also given a take-home food ration for people taking care of them, is also being cut, the agency said.

Separately, the WFP aims to feed more than 1 million people hit by the crisis in Ivory Coast, including those reeling from high food prices or returning to their homes after turmoil. That programme has received more donor support, according to Casella.