The Kingdom of Bhutan has made considerable progress since opening up to the outside world in the 1960s. The country embarked on a far-reaching development strategy that has been articulated in a series of five-year development plans. The new 11th Five-Year Plan (2014–2018) is currently being prepared and continues the practice of targeted investments for human, social and economic development. In this context, Bhutan is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Gross National Income has consistently risen from $730 in 2000 to $2,070 in 2011 and annual Gross Domestic Product growth has also been strong—approximately 8 percent in 2011/12 and projected to reach 12.5 percent in 2012/13. Poverty rates have fallen from 23 percent in 007 to 12 percent in 2012. There are, however, geographical differences; six out of 20 dzongkhags (districts) have poverty levels above the national average.
After almost 40 years of WFP support, the Government has now set self-reliance in the social development sphere as its goal by 2020—especially in education and health services. In practice, this means that specific nation-wide programmes such as school feeding will be managed, implemented and resourced directly by the Government without external assistance. To this end, around 11 percent of the budget for the 11th Five Year Plan will be devoted to the education sector.
The overall goal of WFP assistance over the course of 2014-2018, with a view to phasing out operations by the end of 2018, is to help the Government achieve self-reliance in the management, coordination and implementation of a cost-effective, equitable and quality school-feeding programme across the country. To achieve this broader goal, WFP has the following as its specific objectives: strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Education to be an effective steward of a nation-wide school-feeding programme; and maintain access to, and gender parity in, primary education that contributes to enhanced learning.
WFP will pursue two inter-related strategies. The first is to continue supporting primary schools in remote areas, but gradually hand over this responsibility to the Ministry of Education. The second is to strengthen capacities of the Ministry in policy and priority setting, supply-chain management and programme oversight, so as to enable it to independently administer the countrywide school-feeding programme.
These objectives correspond WFP Strategic Objective 4 and Millennium Development Goal 21 and are aligned with the Government’s 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2014-2018). Moreover, the objectives contribute to the One UN Programme outcome of providing equitable access to, and utilization and quality of essential social services for all, with a focus on sustaining the Millennium Development Goals and addressing emerging challenges.