The World Food Programme (WFP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to support Bhutan in the transition of school feeding to a National School Feeding and Nutrition Programme on Wednesday in Thimphu.
The project, which will be implemented over a period from 2019 to 2023 with US$4mn funding provided by KOICA, aims to address the double burden of malnutrition by focusing on reduction of micronutrient deficiencies, as well as over-nutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) related to poor diets, alcohol, tobacco and lack of physical activity. NCDs are now responsible for 69% of the reported disease burden in the country.
“The Korea Government recognizes Bhutan as one of the most essential partners in the region,” said Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh and Bhutan, Mr. Joe Hyun-Gue. “Together with WFP, we are committed to contributing to Bhutan’s development in the education, health and agriculture sector, in recognition of the crucial role health and nutrition plays for human capital development. KOICA stands in solidarity with Bhutan as a development partner towards the accomplishment of the SDGs and the country’s transition into a lower middle-income country.”
“Healthy, nutritious meals increase children’s learning capacities,” said Svante Helms, Head of Office, WFP Bhutan. “Healthy food leads to smarter children – and healthy children have better chances to thrive and fulfill their potential as adults. Investments in human capital development of children are among the most effective and productive investments a country can make.”
In support of the project implementation, the WFP, together with government partners, is introducing the Menu Optimizer Tool that through an algorithm calculates the most nutrition-rich menu at the lowest cost and with the highest proportion of local food. WFP will also launch a digital game-based learning platform to support more interactive and engaging nutrition and health education for schoolchildren.
Under the guidance of the Gross National Happiness Commission, the School Health and Nutrition Division (SHND) of the Ministry of Education will be the lead implementing agency. Other partners include the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (Department of Agriculture and Department of Agricultural Marketing & Co-operatives), Ministry of Health (Nutrition Division), Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) and Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (FCBL).
Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu