WFP’s assistance to Bhutan began in 1974 with a school-feeding project that covered 9 schools with a little over a thousand students. The level of assistance has increased in the following years spanning assistance to areas such as health, road construction, suspension bridges, agricultural, re-settlement, forestry, irrigation, diary development, price stabilization schemes and the establishment of a food buffer stock.
WFP’s current Development Programme in Bhutan “Improving Rural Children’s Access to Basic Education with a Focus on Primary Education” (2008 - 2012) aims to assist the government in its school feeding activities by addressing short-term hunger faced by children living far away from schools and by reducing the financial burden on poor rural parents; it also assists in alleviating certain micronutrient deficiencies, while contributing to an overall improvement of school enrolment rates and attendance. These children are especially coming from remote, food insecure areas with low primary school enrolment rates. Special attention is given to the girl students.
This project reflects the increasing role being assumed by the Government in the school feeding programme as part of a transition phase to complete Government support.
WFP also assists in infrastructural development like construction of boarding facilities, matron's quarters, kitchen, food stores and toilet facilities at remote, rural off-road, schools to increase access to education and for a self-sufficient and sustainable school feeding programme.
The objectives of WFP assistance are to:
(i) increase school enrolment, particularly among girls, for children in poor, food-insecure rural communities;
(ii) maintain regular school attendance, particularly among girls;
(iii) reduce gender disparity;
(iv) alleviate short-term hunger and help children to concentrate in class; and
(v) enhance the capacities of the Government to manage the school feeding programme.