The World Food Programme (WFP) Bhutan has successfully handed over the feeding programme to the Royal Government of Bhutan. Its partnership with Bhutan dates back to 1974 with the introduction of the school feeding programme. The WFP committed to remain ‘Saving Lives, Changing Lives’ in Bhutan.
In the first issue of WFP Bhutan’s Quarterly Newsletter, Carrie Morrison, the Representative and Country Director stated that WFP will strive to pursue their commitment to the people of Bhutan with renewed zeal, as the country recovers from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WFP serves the people of Bhutan as a technical partner, working closely with the Government in building resilient food systems, securing food and nutrition security, addressing malnutrition, and strengthening emergency preparedness and disaster risk management capacity.
In its operational updates, WFP and the Tarayana Foundation supported a cooking competition, advocating for healthy diets among rural and vulnerable populations. The finale was organized on 28 February. Ten farmers, who were selected after an initial round of competition from Zhemgang, Trongsa, Tsirang, and Lhuentse districts, participated in the finale. The competition showcased the community members’ skills and facilitated the sharing of original recipes that were nutritious and locally sourced. The contest aimed at promoting creativity, enhancing cooking skills, and strengthening knowledge on nutrition, while building confidence in basic food preparation. WFP’s support to Tarayana is part of a project that aims to create a database of available local foods, consumption patterns, and cooking and storage practices.
Fifteen schools in Trongsa district renewed their contracts with local smallholder farmers for procurement of vegetables and fruits for school meals. The contract renewal was facilitated by the Regional Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives Office under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, in partnership with WFP. The linkages between smallholder farmers and schools have increased income for the farmers, while improving food diversity and nutrition of the school meals.
To promote healthy eating habits among children and adolescents WFP supported a workshop, a social behavior change (SBC) strategy and action plan were developed to promote and motivate healthier eating habits among school children and adolescents.
For emergency preparedness and responses, WFP and the Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management organized a five-day training on use of drones for emergency preparedness and response.
”Having a bird’s-eye view can help humanitarians get a better grasp of the whole picture. Drones can provide rapid post-disaster assessments and map out large areas accurately, saving both time and improving emergency response efficiency,” says Elizabeth Bourke, a drone expert with WFP’s IT emergency preparedness and response branch.
Bhutan counts among 30 countries worldwide where WFP offers different drone-oriented activities — from prepositioning equipment in high disaster risk countries and strengthening local emergency preparedness efforts to supporting emergency responses when disaster hits.
WFP facilitated the linking of six farmer groups from Zhemgang, Tsirang and Dagana districts with the Khenrig Namsum Cooperative to export two metric tons of ginger and turmeric to Malaysia. Linking farmers to international markets has helped increase income for the farmers. WFP, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives, strengthens farmers’ capacity in optimal agriculture practices, climate resilient production, post-harvest management, value chain development, market access, and enhanced supply chains.
WFP’s Annual Work Plan for the fiscal year 2023- 2024 was finalized in consultation with the Royal Government of Bhutan. Activities in WFP’s work plan focus on enhancing access to and use of reliable and timely data for inclusive and evidence based policy and decision making. They also focus on reaching communities and populations who are vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition, building a resilient and nutrition-secure food system, and strengthening capacity in disaster risk reduction and management.
WFP provides the Government with vulnerability-focused capacity strengthening relevant to its management of national emergency resources, development, enhancement and testing of national emergency response plans and coordination systems, through WFP’s leadership of the emergency logistics and communications sectoral working group.
WFP promotes healthy eating habits among children and adolescents, conducts community advocacy for healthy diets and links farmers to the markets.
About 98,502 students receive at least one meal a day and school kitchens and storage units were constructed and refurbished in 16 schools. About 498 schools are under the National School Feeding and Nutrition Programme and 2, 855 smallholder farmers are linked to schools.
Donors for WFP’s programme are Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), World Bank, First-line of Defence (USAID), Global Logistics Cluster support, WFP internal funds.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu