Introducing Yoghurt into WFP's School Meals in Burkina Faso

In May, the World Food Programme began distributing yoghurt as part of its school feeding programme in Dori, the capital of Burkina Faso’s Sahel region – a region with the lowest school enrollment rates and highest malnutrition rates in the country. The initiative will benefit nearly 200,000 students across 12 schools, and it’s a first not only in Burkina Faso but across the West Africa region.

Students line up at Djomga Primary School for breakfast, now enriched with locally produced yoghurt.  Nearly 200 students attend this primary school.

Before they enter the classrooms for their breakfast, students wash their hands.  WFP works closely with UNICEF to make sure that good hygenic practices are in place. 

Many students are from rural areas, and this is their first time that they are eating with spoons. Spoons or not aside, they are all eager to try out the yoghurt.

Nearby, this building houses the Dairy Unit, where members of the women’s association Kossaim Nai Bodedji Dori turn milk into yoghurt for the students.  The Ministry of Public Health provided the women with training whilst WFP food experts helped ensure that the product is of the highest quality, and production, storage and distribution measures are safe. Providing dairy products, which are among the preferred foods in this part of the country, will not only enrich children’s school meals but provide a market for vulnerable small-scale farmers and women’s groups to earn an extra income.

Ramata Inga, 11, is all smiles as she eats her yoghurt.  “I used to drink milk, but it isn’t as good as this! My friends and I love the yoghurt – we want to eat it every day.”

Assane Sambo Dicko, 12, said that he prefers the yoghurt to the previous breakfast.

“It’s fresh, and it’s sweet.  I’m very happy.  With the yoghurt, I can work harder to be successful and make my parents happy too.”  

Assane wants to finish his education and become a teacher.

With the joy visible on her students’ faces, Agnes Meda, who teaches at the primary school, says that she appreciates the WFP initiative.

“Dairy is very important for children’s growth.  And it’s liked by students. Distributing yoghurt should help with our attendance rates. I think we will see the return of students who had dropped out of school.”

WFP has been providing school meals in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso since 2004, serving daily breakfast and lunch to students.  Girls also receive a monthly ration to take home to their families as an added incentive to encourage enrollment and keep them in school.

The results are already palpable. Since 2006, enrollment rates have increased overall from 37 percent to nearly 50 percent in 2014, while for girls, enrollment has jumped from 32 percent to 48 percent in the same period.

Abel Aziz Dao, a government representative who oversees the management of the school canteens in the Sahel region, says that WFP’s new inititative is invaluable.

“WFP has played a crucial role in the educational system, enabling schools to grow, as without school canteens, there would be no schools in the Sahel.  This project will help our children grow and develop healthily,” said Dao.

WFP’s initiative is also helping to fight malnutrition in a region where families struggle to provide two daily meals to their children, and malnutrition rates are one of the highest in the country. 

In 2015, WFP plans to provide more than 127,000 children with one nutritious meal per day in 952 schools across Burkina Faso.