YEREVAN (Mediamax) — Around 15 percent of households in Armenia have not had adequate food since 2010 and a significant proportion are at risk of becoming food insecure. This statistic was stated in the joint report of Armenian National Statistical Service, UN World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund, which reports that numerous households in Armenia have serious nutrition problems reflected in large numbers of stunted and overweight children.
According to the report, the dual malnutrition burden hampers the ability of Armenia to reach its full human and socio-economic potential.
The report indicates that Armenia is exposed to multiple risks, and that 28 percent of households are at risk of becoming food insecure if affected by any financial downturns. Moreover, 19 percent of children under age 5 are reported to have stunted growth, and almost 15 percent were found to be overweight. The stunted condition is caused by chronic malnutrition in which children are small for their age.
Poor nutrition presents a significant public health concern, the report indicates.
UN World Food Programme Representative in Armenia Pascale Micheau noted that previous international studies had shown that child undernutrition impacts negatively the Gross Domestic Product of the country as a result of increased healthcare costs and lower productivity.
“It also adds to education costs. Food-insecure households have fewer educated members and allocate less of their overall income to education expenses,” said Micheau.
The report recommends early identification of malnutrition risks as a means of reducing stunting, while tackling obesity through increased awareness on proper nutrition.
It also suggests strengthening food security through investments in youth and women employment, rural development, social protection, and education.
“I am not sure people realize how high it is. It is time to get together and do something to address it. By mobilizing resources and joining efforts of the Government and UN agencies it is possible to design effective interventions,” said Busetto.