ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 74,000 children in the African country of Cameroon will have improved food security and literacy through a new school-based program, Counterpart International announced. (www.Counterpart.org)
"The Cameroon program builds on a decade of working with communities in West Africa to overcome high rates of both malnutrition and school dropout, both of which can be addressed through school feeding programs," says Joan C. Parker, President and CEO of Counterpart International. "Our community-focused model has successfully driven down malnutrition and driven up school attendance rates."
The three-year program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service, incorporates donated food, creating community-run gardens and building school facilities in the North Region.
Cameroon is a low-income, food deficient country. A third of children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to the Cameroonian Institute of National Statistics. Annual food shortages are becoming more severe, threatening the health of children and entire communities.
Children at the 150 participating schools will receive breakfast and lunch as a way to increase school enrollment and ensure a healthy diet. Girls – who face higher dropout rates in this region – will also receive monthly take-home rations along with nutrition education information.
As a long-term solution to malnutrition, school gardens will be created and managed by the local parent-teacher associations. The crops produced by these gardens will supplement, and eventually supplant, the commodities provided by the USDA.
Through national and regional forums on school feeding, the program will strengthen the Cameroonian government's capacity to understand and address food security risks and provide proper education opportunities to the country's children.
The program also seeks to improve overall education standards by training school administrators and constructing more than 150 storerooms, 42 latrines and five classrooms.
When fully operational, the project is projected to directly benefit more than 74,000 primary school students with daily meals, with indirect benefits extending to 500,000 additional community members.
To learn more about Counterpart's implementation of the USDA Food for Education program, please view our award-winning, short video about Senegal: http://www.counterpart.org/news/publications-websites/senegal-FFE-USDA
Partnering for success
"The partnerships built into this new program are essential to improving the health and economic status of families in Cameroon," says Counterpart's Parker. "Involving parent-teacher associations, the government and local authorities will ensure that this program is both successful and sustainable."
Counterpart will lead the implementation of this new program in collaboration with the Cameroon Ministry of Basic Education, the Cameroon Ministry of Health, the National Network of Mothers' Associations for Girls' Education (known by its French acronym, RECAMEF) and the international NGO Helen Keller International.
Building upon previous successes
A previous Counterpart program had a dramatic impact on school attendance – with primary school enrollment increasing 40.5 percent for boys and 33.6 percent for girls in 2009 and 2010 – in the Bui Division of the North West Region. That USDA-supported Food for Education program directly benefited more than 20,500 students per day through a school feeding program.
This new award solidifies Counterpart's reputation as a reliable implementer of USDA-funded programs.
Meanwhile, Counterpart was a Food for Education pioneer in the Senegal region of Matam, where more than 22,000 children are benefitting. The dropout rate decreased substantially and the enrollment increased dramatically in the communities where Counterpart is working. Watch the video: http://www.counterpart.org/news/publications-websites/senegal-FFE-USDA
About Counterpart International
Counterpart International is a global development organization that works in partnership to empower people, communities and institutions to drive and sustain their own development. It is currently working in 23 countries.
For nearly 50 years, Counterpart has been working in partnership with communities in need to address complex problems related to economic development, nutrition and health, humanitarian assistance and strengthening civil society.
Learn more at www.Counterpart.org.
SOURCE Counterpart International