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.
4 percent of the Armenian population were undernourished in 2015-17. Food insecurity increased sharply following the global economic crisis and is correlated to poverty.
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 unemployed head. Food insecurity goes hand in hand with the double burden of child malnutrition.
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
School mealsWFP’s School Feeding Programme was launched in 2010, thanks to a constructive partnership with the Government and the generous contribution of the Russian Federation. Since 2014, the Government been implementing the Programme directly in four provinces (Ararat, Syunik, Vayots Dzor and Tavush). In the remaining six provinces, WFP continues to provide hot, nutritious meals on 180 days of the school year to around 60,000 children and to distribute take-home entitlements to 1,700 kitchen staff involved in meal preparation.
Agriculture and market supportWFP works in partnership with the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development to purchase locally-grown buckwheat for the school meals programme. This helps to provide a sustainable market, adding to the existing market support activities, which currently involve the shift from international to local procurement, including from small-holder farmers with the aim to boost the local economy.