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Bhutan Transitional ICSP (January-December 2018)

Countries: Bhutan | Operations ID: BT01 | Operations type: Transitional Interim Country Strategic Plan (T-ICSP)

T-ICSP approved in July 2017.

Bhutan has a national philosophy, Gross National Happiness, which already encompasses the principles and priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals. As such more than 90 percent of relevant SDG targets are already embedded in Bhutan’s current 11th Five Year Plan (2013-2018). The upcoming 12th Five Year Plan (2018-2023) which is currently under development is expected to be fully aligned with the SDGs.

The country has achieved remarkable socioeconomic progress and poverty declined from 23.2 percent in 2007 to 12.0 percent by 2012. Most of the poor live in rural areas which is still home to some 60 percent of the population despite a steadily increase in the urban population. Due to the challenging topography, the cultivated agricultural area accounts for only 2.93 percent of the total land area of Bhutan. The main crops cultivated domestically include paddy, maize, potatoes, vegetables and fruits, but many food commodities are imported from neighbouring India, including rice, vegetables, oils, dairy and meat products. While acute food insecurity is limited, the quality of household diets remains poor, with mainly starchy staples being consumed and little meat or fresh green vegetables.

This T-ICSP will be a continuation of Development Project 200300 (2014-2018) through which WFP has been supporting the national school meals programme. Over the first four year of this project the Ministry of Education gradually took over more WFP supported schools and management roles from WFP. As such, in 2018 WFP will be providing food for only 12,000 students versus more than 65,000 supported by the government. To facilitate this increasing commitment to school meals WFP has been providing capacity development, focussing on supply chain, M&E, policy development and increasingly nutrition. To address micronutrient deficiencies, WFP introduced fortified rice and has started to work with local partners to ensure the country will be able to sustain this when WFP support to school meals is phased out by 2019.

Through this T-ICSP, WFP works towards the strategic outcomes (1) School-aged children in vulnerable areas have sustainable access to food by 2019 and (2) The Government of Bhutan has strengthened capacity to achieve the SDGs by 2030. These outcomes are fully aligned with government priorities and UNDAF (2014-2018), as well as WFP Strategic Result 1 – Everyone has access to food – and Strategic Result 5 – Developing countries have strengthened capacity to implement the SDGs – of the WFP Strategic Plan 2017-2021).

After more than 40 years of support to school meals in Bhutan, this T-ICSP will mark the final year of food support to the programme while the focus will be shifting further towards capacity strengthening. To facilitate this, the WFP country team has been augmented with international expertise further supported backed up where needed by the Regional Bureau. WFP further increased the collaboration with the UN partners in country including UNICEF, WHO and FAO.