ANTANANARIVO – Children from schools receiving United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) daily meals will compete on Friday in an exhibition match to promote WFP’s Tackle Hunger partnership with the International Rugby Board (IRB). Coinciding with the African leg of the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification process, the Webb Ellis Cup – the highest award in world rugby – will be on display during the match as part of a global trophy tour in the build-up to next year’s Rugby World Cup finals in England.
“This is a wonderful event that will show the huge impact that good nutrition can have on the lives of children from poor households,” said WFP Country Director Willem van Milink. “Rugby is a passion here in Madagascar and our school meals encourage parents to send their children to school as well as encouraging them to compete in some of their favourite sports.”
Competitors in the Tackle Hunger exhibition match will be drawn from a number of educational institutions in Antananarivo where WFP is assisting vulnerable children by providing nutritious meals that contribute to their mental and physical development. Two teams of girls and boys in the 8-12 year age range will compete against teams from the ‘Ecole de Rugby, Ecole de la Vie’ of the Malagasy Rugby Federation at the Andohatapenaka stadium in Antananarivo.
Abdelaziz Bougja, President of the Confédération Africaine de Rugby (CAR) and IRB Council Member, said: "On behalf of CAR and the IRB I am delighted that the Tackle Hunger partnership continues to go from strength to strength and I congratulate all the children taking part in this exhibition match.”
“Rugby players are all too aware of the importance of proper nutrition and a healthy, balanced diet to aid their performance both on and off the field. Thanks to WFP’s great work and the ongoing support of the global Rugby family, we can help win the match against hunger.”
WFP is currently working in orphanages and educational centres, providing food assistance to 33,000 vulnerable children in Antananarivo, Toamasina, Toliara and the southeast region of Madagascar. WFP’s assistance aims to promote access to education for children from the poorest communities, as well as to reduce drop-out rates among neglected or abused children.
Established at Rugby World Cup 2003, Tackle Hunger is a partnership between WFP and the IRB designed to engage with and mobilize the global rugby community to raise funds and awareness about WFP’s work on the frontlines of hunger around the world. The partnership focuses on the strong link between good nutrition, mental and physical development and sporting excellence.
Chronic malnutrition is widespread in Madagascar, affecting some 47 percent of children under five years of age, while general food insecurity affects almost one-third of the population. WFP programmes in Madagascar focus on providing food assistance to people who are most vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition, especially women and children.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.