T-ICSP approved in July 2017.
Armenia is a lower-middle income, net food-importer country vulnerable to external shocks. Despite macro-economic progress and structural reforms implemented during the last decade, growth has been weak and uninclusive, and a rising state debt has strained the Government budget, hindering implementation of adequate national social safety nets and driving many Armenians to leave the country in search of economic opportunities elsewhere. Undernutrition (19 percent stunting), rising overweight and obesity (15 percent) and micronutrient deficiencies exist among children aged 6 to 59 months alongside the 15 percent of food insecure Armenians, a percentage that has increased sharply following the 2008 global economic crisis.
Armenia’s Development Programme (DEV 200128) was initiated in 2010 and provided school meals to primary school children to mitigate the impact of the global crisis on vulnerable households by improving the access of poor rural children to primary education with the goal of a phased handover to Government. WFP has thus far handed over three provinces, while continuing to provide hot school meals to 60,000 primary school children (27,600 girls) in the remaining seven provinces outside of Yerevan city. Following this handover, direct cash transfers were allocated to these three provinces annually from the State budget to cover school meals provision for 21,500 school children (9,890 girls) in all 265 of their schools. Implementation of the school meals programme in Tavush will be handed over to the Government of Armenia in September 2017, followed by Shirak in 2018 and Aragatsotn in 2019. To sustain its increased responsibilities in administering, funding and implementing school meals, the Government created two new institutions for this purpose and has committed to submitting a permanent school meals policy to Parliament by mid-2017.
With the support of the United Nations system, Armenia instituted a set of high level committees to oversee the nationalisation, monitoring and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). WFP Armenia is supporting the Government to achieve SDG 2 and end hunger through the National Strategic Review process, which is intended to shape and integrate often disparate policies associated with food security and nutrition. Completing the Strategic Review and supporting the heightened leadership of the Government on food security and nutrition will be a key concern in 2018.
In addition to being a reliable partner efficiently implementing school meals at scale, WFP Armenia has become a well-acknowledged policy adviser, a rigorous analyst in the area of food security, nutrition and social protection and a key capacity enabler of the Armenian Government.
The transitional Interim Country Strategic Plan will focus on one strategic outcome designed to further scale-up the handover and strengthen the Government’s capacity to independently and reliably deliver nutritious, locally sourced school meals in Armenia through the diversification of resources and partnerships with the international community, civil society and within the Government.
All primary school students in Armenia have reliable access to safe, adequate and nutritious food by 2023.
This strategic outcome contributes directly to WFP Strategic Result 1 and SDG 2’s target on access to food (2.1). The school meals activities contribute indirectly to SDG 1 on poverty, SDG 3 on health, SDG 4 on education and SDG 5 on gender, with a particular contribution to Target 5.5 ensuring equal opportunities for leadership in public life and Target 5.7, which seeks to give women equal rights to economic resources as well as access to ownership and control over land and financial services. They concur with the priorities of the 2014-2025 Armenia Development Strategy, focusing on human capital development and improvement of social protection together with the Armenia United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2016-2020) Outcome 5, improving the access of vulnerable populations to basic education and social protection services. The design of the handover process, meant to transfer all facets of the national school meals system to the Government by 2023, supports the capacity strengthening component of SDG 17. To achieve this strategic outcome, WFP will continue to establish strategic partnerships, with a particular focus on the Rome-based agencies.