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Paul Tergat to promote the World Food Programme

Paul Tergat to promote the World Food Programme
Omulo Okoth for the IAAF

31 May 2001 – Nairobi, Kenya - The World Food Programme (WFP) has enlisted Kenyan cross country legend Paul Tergat in its school feeding fundraising initiative. The project targets primary schools in drought-stricken, arid and semi-arid areas in Kenya and neighbouring countries. 

The WFP Kenya Country programme chose Tergat, who has won five world cross country titles, because he was a beneficiary of the school feeding project in his native Baringo district in his primary school days, Lindsey Davies of the WFP Information Office in Nairobi said.  “Tergat is also an international figure who has made great strides in the global sports arena and we thought he was the ideal person to work with in this initiative. We held discussions with him and he was very positive. He is a wonderful personality,” Ms Davies said.

The 31-year old Kenya Air Force sergeant has won two Olympic silver and two world silver medals over 10,000 metres. He took second place in his full marathon debut in London on April 22. He holds world’s best half marathon time of 59:17.

“I feel excited and honoured by the WFP to sensitise the world in this worthy course. I benefited from the school feeding programme in my early days in Riwo Primary school (1983-1985) in Baringo and I will give it my full support,” Tergat said.

“Not many households can afford a meal in many parts of the country. Through the provision of food in schools, we want to kill two birds with one stone, alleviating hunger and enabling pupils realise their educational dreams” .

On May 22, a team from the WFP Nairobi office, Tergat and a film crew from CNN and the Washington Post went to Riwo Primary school, of which Tergat is an alumnus, and donated truckload of foodstuffs.

Tergat says he will ask his former rival on the track Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia to support the initiative as his country is also included in the programme.

“I will also mobilise all top athletes from Kenya and neighbouring countries to support it. We anticipate a global response akin to the US for Africa fund raiser that attracted the support of all the top musicians of the world in the 1980s in aid of the Ethiopian famine victims,” Tergat said.

“With the involvement of Tergat in the project, the school feeding initiative will receive a global profile with a massive potential response,” Jack Ochola, a close associate of Tergat, commented.   “Paul has risen to global fame through sheer hard work and he realises the need to give back to the less fortunate members of the society,” he said.  The WFP has run the school feeding project across the globe for the past 40 years. It was started in Kenya 20 years ago.

According to Ms Davies, 350,000 children benefit from the project in Kenya but up to 1 million are in dire need of food. The areas most affected include Loitoktok, Narok and Turkana.