Yerevan, 21 July 2017 - The Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, his Excellency Mr. Levon Mkrtchyan, and the Country Director and Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP), Ms. Pascale Micheau, have signed the third extension of the Development Project Action Plan (DPAP) until 31 December 2018.
Established in 1993, and following the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 1988, the World Food Programme has seen extensive, fruitful, and long-standing cooperation with the Armenian government. Citing Ms. Micheau, “WFP believes this almost 30-year long collaboration has helped improving the life of the most destitute people of Armenia, and will contribute to realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on the spirit of Leaving no-one behind”.
Mr. Mkrtchyan thanked the World Food Programme for the continuous support in the conceptual design, development, and expansion of the School Feeding programme, and assured continuous cooperation with WFP beyond 2018. He thanked all ministerial bodies involved in the programme, as well as the Russian Federation for its targeted financing and stated the following: “School Feeding is not only about food, it is much more Children eating together and parent helping the programme create new rules of coexistence, foster social ties, all with an educative significance”.
Ms. Micheau thanked the Russian Federation for its generous and predictable multi-year funding, and the government of the Republic of Armenia for its continuous cooperation in progressing to achieve “Zero Hunger” solutions for the country.
The School Feeding Development Project, launched in 2010 by WFP, now reaches 60,000 primary school children and 1700 remunerated kitchen staff in 600 schools, all throughout 7 provinces of Armenia, on a 5 day-per-week basis during 180 school days. Needless to say, the project, totalling USD 35.61 million under the generous funding of the Russian Federation, has certainly contributed to the betterment of the livelihoods of primary-school aged children across Armenia. With the success of cash transfers in Tavush, WFP will scale-up this approach that fosters local production, with the end-in-mind of evolving school feeding to self-sustainability.
In 2015, WFP handed over to the government administration school feeding in the provinces of Ararat, Syunik, and Vayots Dzor. Ms. Micheau noted that she is confident in the highest commitment that the government will show towards sustaining the provision of hot meals, once the Tavush province will have been handed over in September 2017, and the Shirak province in September 2018. Meanwhile, WFP remains highly committed to accompanying the government in its venture to establish the National School Feeding Programme.
The newly established State School Feeding Foundation will be fully responsible and accountable for ensuring that quality school feeding is implemented continuously as it is taken over by the government. WFP has provided technical support alongside direct financial support worth USD 580,000 to the Foundation, with the expectation that USD 207,000 of these funds will be directed towards the Republican Training Centre to conduct no less than 53 comprehensive trainings.
WFP is looking forward to the development and adoption of a comprehensive strategy on the National School Feeding Programme by the government, which would reflect the multiple benefits that the programme has to offer.
Ms. Micheau concluded by expressing her gratitude towards the government of Armenia and its commitment to making sure that School Feeding “benefits the children of Armenia, who are the future of the Nation.”