A lower-middle income, landlocked, net food importer country, Armenia is highly vulnerable to external shock factors, including the global economic downturn and regional conflicts.
Border closures with neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan after Armenia's independence in 1991 have constrained the country’s economic development. According to the latest National Statistical Service data, the poverty rate reached 29.4 percent in 2016. Armenia’s human development index, which stands at 0.743, remains low compared to the average of countries in the region.
According to national estimates, 6 percent of the Armenian population were undernourished in 2015. 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, increasing almost twice since the global financial crisis of 2008.
Food insecurity goes hand in hand with overlapping nutrition problems in children, which continue to cause concern in Armenia. With a significantly higher prevalence among children under 18 months, օn average, 9 percent of children under 5 years were stunted, while 14 percent were overweight in 2015. The average prevalence of under-5 anaemia stood at 16 percent and peaked at 34-49 percent in some provinces.
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 ongoing development of a sustainable national school feeding programme.
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.