© WFP/Abeer Etefa
Armenia is an upper-middle income, landlocked, net food-importer country, and is vulnerable to external shocks. Since its independence in 1991, the border closure with neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan has constrained the country’s economic development. According to the latest National Statistical Service data, the poverty rate reached 26 percent in 2017, with higher prevalence – 31 percent – among children under 18. Armenia’s human development index, which stood at 0.755 in 2017, remains low compared to the average of countries in the region.
An estimated 16 percent of families were classified as food insecure in 2015 with huge disparities across different population groups and regions, reaching peaks of 24 percent in Shirak and 28 among households with an unemployed head.
Food insecurity goes hand in hand with the double burden of child malnutrition. The 2018 Global Nutrition Report identified the coexistence of two forms of malnutrition, namely overweight and anaemia. The proportion of overweight children under 5 was 14 percent in 2015-16, reaching up to 36 percent in Ararat province. The prevalence of anemia among women between 15 and 49 years of age was 13 percent, and 16 percent among children under 5, with peaks of 39 and 49 percent respectively in Gegharkunik province.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in Armenia since 1993. Initially an emergency operation, WFP’s work has since evolved to development assistance. In line with government priorities, WFP continues to support the development agenda of Armenia capitalizing on previous and current outstanding achievements of the School Feeding Programme. In future, WFP will enhance its focus on nutrition and the creation of innovative and sustainable nutrition sensitive food value chains.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Armenia
Community developmentThe Government of Armenia and WFP stepped up cooperation in 1993. Since then, food relief projects gradually evolved into community development initiatives, prioritised and led by communities. WFP provided vulnerable community members with food or cash as they performed activities including improving irrigation and drinking water systems, schools and health clinics. WFP’s support has expanded, with an increasing focusing on Armenia’s development agenda and national priorities.
School feedingThe school feeding programme was relaunched in 2010 by the Government and strategic partners, including WFP, with the goal of achieving a nationally-owned, sustainable National School Feeding Programme. Since 2014, the Government been implementing the Programme directly in five provinces (Ararat, Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Shirak Tavush), while in the remaining WFP continues to provide hot, nutritious meals 180 days of the school year to around 60,000 primary school children and to distribute take-home entitlements to 1,700 kitchen staff involved in meal preparation.
Local economic development, enhanced food security and nutritionWFP’s programmes embrace Armenia’s development priorities. WFP will continue investing in human capital to further improve health, education, social protection and productivity via its School Feeding Programme. Capitalizing on previous and current achievements of the School Feeding Programme, WFP and partners will enhance focus on nutrition and the creation of innovative and sustainable nutrition-sensitive food value chains.
Capacity strengtheningBuilding on its accomplishments and invested efforts in strengthening capacity, WFP will continue supporting communities, provinces, Ministries and the Government of Armenia in enhancing their capacities for improved national policies, programmes and systems.