The Italian-Egyptian Debt for Development Swap Programme and the World Food Programme (WFP) have announced the completion of a five-year-old "Food for Education" programme.
Launched in 2009, the programme provided nutrition to 87,000 school children in the governorates of Fayoum, Minya and Beni Suef at a total cost of LE54.3 million.
In addition to in-school snacks, the programme provided monthly take-home rations for 98,500 of the most disadvantaged families, to encourage them to regularly send their children to school.
According to WFP country director Lubna Alaman, the programme raised school attendance levels in beneficiary areas to 96 percent in a country where many poor rural families prefer sending their children to work to supplement household income rather than sending them to school.
“Ïtaly has been supporting school feeding efforts in Egypt for the last 10 years, with a contribution amounting to approximately $15 million under the Italian-Egyptian Debt for Development Swap Programmes," said Maurizio Massari, the Italian ambassador to Egypt.
The programme had been part of a debt swap agreement worth $100 million signed in 2007, said Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa El-Ahwany.
A similar programme worth LE42.5 million was launched as part of a $150 million tranche of development aid given by Italy to Egypt, again part of the debt swap programme, in 2001.
A third tranche was signed in 2012, granting Egypt $100 million for development projects.