Cuban Sugar Sweetens Education for Children Throughout Laos

April 19, 2012

VIENTIANE – More than 150,000 pre-primary and primary school students will get a boost of energy every day to help them concentrate better on their studies, thanks to a contribution from Cuba of more than 180 metric tons of sugar to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) which was made possible by the generosity of a private Japanese donor.

Cuban sugar

The sugar will be mixed in to a nutritious daily mid-morning snack – dumplings made from a blend of corn and soy - for school students in rural areas throughout six provinces in the far north and south of Laos.

The Cuban donation was made possible thanks to a private citizen of Japan, who funded the shipment from Cuba to Laos. In a statement, he expressed his hope that his contribution will play a small part in making the world a better place.

A handover ceremony held at the Ministry of Education and Sports today was attended by Vice Minister of Education and Sports, H.E. Mr. Lytou Bouapao, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba, H.E. Mr. Waldo Reyes Sardinas, and WFP Representative and Country Director to Lao PDR, Eri Kudo.

“We are delighted to welcome this first contribution from Cuba to support school meals here in Laos”, said Kudo at the ceremony. “No child should attend school hungry. To reach this goal we work closely with the Lao Government and our donors to support rural families.”

“This is the first time Cuba has supported our WFP-assisted School Meals programme and this kind of donation is a further example of the strong friendship already uniting our two nations”, said Vice Minister Bouapao. “The contribution is vital for the efforts of the Government of Lao PDR to improve the lives of our young generation, by giving them energy to concentrate on their studies today, to have more opportunities in the future and so to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.”

“This donation is a great example of South-South cooperation and how WFP is catalyzing partnerships between the public and private sector in fighting hunger. Many Latin American countries have in recent years gained expertise in managing their own school meals programmes. Lao PDR can gain valuable knowledge from their experience”, said Kudo.

Currently, more than 200,000 pre-primary and primary school children in remote villages in Phongsaly, Luangnamtha, Oudomxay, Saravane, Sekong and Attapeu benefit from the WFP-assisted school meals programme. Every day, they receive a nutritious mid-morning snack that eases hunger and helps them concentrate on their lessons.

Additional food support is given to more than 4,500 informal boarders–students who live far from school and have to make an extra effort to attend every day, with many of them staying in boarding facilities or with relatives. At the beginning and end of the school year, take-home rations of rice are given to support their families and help them continue with their education.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. In 2011, WFP Lao PDR provided 8,800 tons of food to more than 610,000 people throughout the country.

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