July 30, 2014 4:41 am

Ottawa to spend $20M for food programs for children in Africa

A young girl holds a baby as she stands with other children at the "ONO" orphanage in the Mali-Maka district in the 5th arrondissement of Bangui on January 6, 2014.

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

ARNAUD, Man. – The federal government will spend $20 million to fund the International Food Policy Research Institute in supporting new ways to prevent childhood “undernutrition” in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso.

International Development Minister Christian Paradis made the announcement Tuesday at a farm near Arnaud in southern Manitoba.

The decision was lauded by Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a Manitoba-based coalition of 15 Canadian churches and church-based agencies working to end world hunger.

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Spokeswoman Pearl Braun-Dyck says helping mothers feed their children is the right way to go, since as caregivers, women make sure food gets to their children.

She says when children are fed they can learn, and “education empowers people.”

However, the CFB was less successful in persuading Paradis that more federal money should be spent to help prevent a famine in South Sudan.

Jim Cornelius, executive director of the CFB, said it would be a good investment because once it becomes a full-blown famine, “it’s too late.”

In a later interview, Paradis was noncommittal about more aid for South Sudan.

“I have constraints,” the minister said. “Funds are not unlimited.”

South Sudan is on Canada’s list as a country of concern, and it’s already providing aid there, he said.

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