The main humanitarian concern for the Government of Armenia is the poverty that continues to impact one third of the population.
While economic growth remained robust in 2005, the sustainability of such growth over the long-run is not assured.
The country remains highly dependent on remittances from abroad and international assistance. Food assistance is critical for thousands who lack food security because of limited economic opportunities.
Overall food availability worsens in the winter months when extra calories are needed for coping with the harsh climatic conditions and lack of heating. Armenia's largest borders with two of its neighbours, Azerbaijan and Turkey, remain closed, stifling trade and economic development.
The country's main trade links are by rail and road through Georgia's Black Sea port.
WFP has been present in Armenia since late 1993. Food distributions were started in 1994 under an emergency operation targeting refugees from Azerbaijan.
In 1999, the emergency operation was replaced with a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO), reaching 110,000 beneficiaries, including resident vulnerable groups.
The current operation contributes to the recovery process in line with the national priorities of poverty eradication, enhancing national safety nets, improving rural infrastructure and fostering education through relief food distributions, food-for-education and food-for-work/training activities. Under the current operation, WFP activities include:
- Relief food distribution which assists 40,000 people and supplements the Government's social welfare system by meeting the essential food needs of the targeted poor population in urban areas;
- Food for Work which reaches 40,000 people in the poorest rural areas through the creation of temporary employment, improved food security and rehabilitated public assets, including schools, kindergartens, drinking and irrigation water networks and agricultural warehouses;
- Food for Education reaches 30,000 children in pre and primary schools in vulnerable rural communities with the aim to ensure attendance and improve retention and learning capacities;
- Food for Training focuses on health and nutrition and helps increase awareness, and develop micro-enterprise skills for unemployed able-bodied persons.
WFP's current operation assists 110,000 people with 27,948 metric tons of food at an overall cost of US$13.2 million. A follow-on operation, covering the period until December 2008, is underway to ensure a smooth handover to the Government and other stakeholders.