Developing innovative approaches to food and nutrition

WFP also worked with partners to advance its country strategic plan (CSP) commitments on fortification through regulatory framework development, analytical capacity strengthening and advocacies.

SHERAB DORJI

Thimphu

As per the Bhutan Annual Country Report, 2021 released by World Food Programme (WFP) in 2021, a total of 1959 farmers comprising of 1,278 female and 681 male and 87 schools with over 14,200 students benefitted from WFP’s approach to develop innovative food systems and nutrition in the country.

Spearheaded by WFP, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mobilised a fund of USD 13 million to accelerate the restructuring of Bhutan’s food system to make it resilient and climate-smart. It also supported the development of the Food Systems Summit and National Pathways for the country.

Further, WFP supported the UN Food Systems Dialogue in a bid to develop a bold and progressive pathway document.  This was initiated to re-structure Bhutan’s food system and the document to be used as the basis for revising Bhutan’s agriculture strategy, 2030.

In addition, WFP continued to support the transformation of the school feeding programme into a national school nutrition programme. It also helped the government develop multiple resources to augment the government’s capacity in management and implementation of their programmes.

Capacity strengthening support was also provided in food preparation and school feeding management, food and nutrition security data collection, and food safety and quality management in the context of rice fortification, amongst others.

In line with WFP’s advocacy efforts to highlight the need to increase stipends, alongside interventions such as linking farmers to schools, nutrition education and food preparation trainings were conducted.

With these initiatives, fortification of staples and ensuring dietary diversity among boarding students receiving school meals has also improved significantly.

“The consumption of locally-produced perishable foods through school meals has also increased to 64 percent in 2021 from 36 percent in 2019 while 55 percent of targeted smallholder farmers increased their production through government support and WFP technical assistance,” the report states.

Despite the escalation in costs and procurement delays due to the pandemic, WFP supported infrastructure requirements including renovation, refurbishment and construction of new kitchens and stores, and the provision of IT equipment.

WFP also worked with partners to advance its country strategic plan (CSP) commitments on fortification through regulatory framework development, analytical capacity strengthening and advocacies.

Similarly WFP’s efforts towards accelerating human capital development agenda of the government were reinforced with the initiation of a World Bank-funded – “Fill-the-Nutrient Gap” – analysis.

Aside from the development of food systems and nutrition, WFP also expanded its partnership with the government and adapted the CSP to address national priorities in response to covid-19.

Meanwhile, WFP mobilized 72 percent of the needs-based plan for the entire CSP through donor contributions and internal funding and multi-year funds from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and WFP internal funds.

With the contributions received from KOICA, WFP assisted the government in its transition to a national school nutrition programme which is based on an integrated approach to school feeding and connects school feeding to allied sectors such as health and agriculture.

According to the report, WFP received internal funds such as the Immediate Response Account for preparedness activities (IR-PREP), Critical Corporate Initiative (CCI), and South-South Opportunity Fund. It also secured additional resources from outside of the Country Portfolio Budget from the SDG fund.

However, the report states the pandemic slowed WFP’s programme implementation as travel restrictions, domestic quarantine requirements and limitations on the number of training participants affected their envisioned targets.

However, despite these challenges, WFP continued its focus on other activities such as strengthening the agriculture statistics, monitoring and reporting system and support to agriculture production and marketing among others.