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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Funding hopes for Malawi charity
A Malawian child
The charity has been providing meals for Malawian children
A Scottish charity praised by the first minister for its work in Malawi has been offered hope after concerns about additional funding.

Scottish International Relief (SIR) had its application for a grant to extend its free school meals programme in the famine-stricken country rejected.

But a spokesman for First Minister Jack McConnell said it would receive funding "in the very near future".

The Malawian Government had asked the charity to extend the scheme.

The Argyll-based charity had its application to the Scottish Executive's 3m International Development Fund (IDF) rejected.

Set up in 2003, SIR's Mary's Meals scheme provides youngsters with a free school meal every day at an annual cost of 5 for each child.

It's not a question of if Mary's Meals receives money from this fund, it is a question of when
Jack McConnell's spokesman

It feeds up to 45,000 children every day in Malawi under the scheme, which has helped win it a major international humanitarian award.

The programme has proved such a success that it has been expanded to Asia, Latin America and elsewhere in Africa.

An executive spokesman said: "As the first minister has made clear, this is a charity doing excellent work in Malawi and the executive wants to provide whatever support it possibly can.

Application rejected

"That is why the executive is keen to meet with the charity as soon as possible to develop its proposals and to help it secure funding in the near future.

"However, at this stage we are of the opinion that the charity's application for funding did not demonstrate that it could deliver its current proposal.

"This view was backed up by a panel of independent experts, who review all decisions on IDF grants."

First Minister Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell has praised the charity's work

But a spokesman for Mr McConnell, who is currently visiting the US and Canada, said the charity would receive funding soon.

"The first minister has seen for himself the wonderful work which Mary's Meals do in Malawi," the spokesman said.

"He has made it absolutely clear to those processing bids for the International Development Fund that they must work with the charity as a matter of urgency to ensure that funding can be made available to them.

"It's not a question of if Mary's Meals receives money from this fund, it is a question of when.

"And as far as the first minister is concerned, 'when' will be in the very near future."




SEE ALSO:
Call to help avert Malawi crisis
06 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Aid pledge over Malawi donations
13 Jun 05 |  Scotland


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