Working to Relieve Suffering in Somalia
Classrooms in Somalia, which were once filled with happy, inquisitive children engaged in learning, are now quiet, empty spaces due to COVID-19. In April, after the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Somalia, the government announced the closure of schools. With this closure, many schoolchildren lost their opportunity to receive a meal during the school day.
COVID-19 has accelerated Somalia’s existing challenges, which include floods and a locust infestation that destroyed crops. Food scarcity and insecurity have damaged the country’s overall health conditions and outcomes. Malnutrition is quickly transforming COVID-19 into a socioeconomic crisis as well as a health crisis.
It is critical that people in Somalia—especially children—have access to nutritious food to strengthen their immune systems and lower their susceptibility to the pandemic.
The World Food Programme (WFP) normally provides 165,000 schoolchildren in Somalia with a daily meal through its school meals program. With schools now closed, children were at risk of losing their opportunity to receive this nutritious meal.
An Innovative Solution
In order to continue helping, WFP Somalia implemented an innovative food delivery system through its e-Shop phone application. This app ensures that schoolchildren and their families still have access to nutritious food.
With a donation from Latter-day Saint Charities, WFP Somalia can feed 35,323 schoolchildren and their families nutritious meals for five months. These meals help children build strong bodies and healthy minds—and the program will continue despite school closures.
Parents of schoolchildren can submit online orders for healthy food staples (such as rice, beans, lentils, local vegetables and fruits, and so on) through the app. Beneficiaries choose the “home delivery” option for free door-to-door delivery.
WFP-contracted delivery providers then bring essential food to the beneficiaries’ homes using bikes, tuk-tuks, small pickups, and so on. The use of this app helps to:
Reduce unnecessary travel.
Maintain social distance (minimize large gatherings of people).
Keep schoolchildren and their families safe.
WFP Somalia country director and representative Cesar Arroyo explained how important it is that the school feeding program continue:
“With this contribution [from Latter-day Saint Charities], we will be able to prevent devastating nutrition and health consequences for the children currently missing out on their daily meals amid school closures. Under normal circumstances, school feeding means a lot to Somali schoolchildren [and] their families and communities. It means protection from hunger, poverty, and early marriage. It also means an increase in enrollment and learning, creating a generation of better-educated Somalis and a bright future for Somalia.”