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15% of Armenian Households Food Insecure, Report Says

Despite the economic growth over the last decade, the level of food insecurity in Armenia has been stagnant over the past 5 years, and there is growing disparity between the food insecure and food secure, according to a joint study conducted by Armenia's National Statistical System, the World Food Programme, and the UNICEF. The report’s findings are mainly based on the Integrated Living Conditions Surveys (ILCS) for the period 2008 – 2014. 

The report states that a sharp increase in food insecurity in Armenia was caused by the global economic crisis; however, despite the economic growth in subsequent years, the level of food insecure households remained high at 15%, almost double the level in 2008. “By contrast, the level of food secure households has been steadily increasing. These trends  indicate  that although the situation is improving for a large share of the population, those worst off are left behind.” Food insecure households, experts continue, had a significantly higher share of unemployed adults  (19%) compared with food secure households (11%). Food insecure households were also poorer, had less reliable and less diversified income sources, and had accumulated more debt.  

“Education is critical for improved food security. Food insecure households invested less in education  than food secure and vulnerable households, and they were educated to a lower level. They also had larger households and a higher proportion of dependent members.”

Researchers also found that dual burden of malnutrition exists across the country among children under 5, with large numbers of both stunted and overweight children. “In 2014 among children under 5 years old, 19% were stunted and 15% were overweight. While both stunting and overweight were falling among children in rural areas, both were rising in urban areas. In urban areas outside Yerevan 22%  of children were stunted, and 17% were overweight.”

Child stunting was significantly linked with household poverty, poor consumption, poor care and feeding practices, and lower education of mothers. The prevalence of overweight was the same across poor and rich households, indicating the need for greater awareness on healthy eating and lifestyle across the entire population. “Overweight children are more likely to become overweight as adults, which poses serious public health concerns. To support development of effective policies, national data collection need to be improved to better understand the prevalence and causes of overweight.”