Republic of Armenia
After becoming independent in 1991, Armenia suffered a difficult transition
to a market economy. Factors such as the 1989-94 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
earthquakes and droughts further affected the socio-economic situation. Agricultural
reforms implemented after independence did not succeed in enhancing the sector's
low productivity. Despite economic growth over the past eight years, the combined
effects of mass impoverishment, rising unemployment and declining access to
public services have led to a decline in the quality of life. Trends indicate
that poverty could become structural.
Armenia is a low income food deficit country. Although food supply and consumption
statistics indicate that the dietary energy supply is low, not meeting population
energy requirements, there is a very high prevalence of overweight and obesity
among adults. This discrepancy could be explained by the fact that a substantial
proportion of production is self-consumed by farmer households and does not
appear in supply statistics.
The diet is rich in carbohydrates as cereals, starchy roots and sweeteners
provide more than two thirds of the energy. The food diversification index
remains low. While consumption of meat and fish is low, that of milk and eggs
as well as fruit and vegetables, is substantial.
While breastfeeding is common, many infants are not exclusively breastfed
and the duration of breastfeeding is short. Moreover, bottle-feeding is frequent.
Efforts to promote breastfeeding have been very successful but further improvements
As a consequence of widespread and increasing food insecurity and a decline
in access to quality health services, stunting of preschool children is not
declining. School-age children and young adolescents are both stunted and wasted.
At the same time overweight is emerging among all age groups. The double burden
of malnutrition — persistent undernutrition together with overnutrition — is
affecting both the preschool and school-age children. Overnutrition is highly
prevalent among adult women. This nutrition transition will trigger a rise
in the incidence of chronic diseases which will impose further stress on an
already strained health system.
Micronutrient deficiencies are still very common. Prevalence of iodine deficiency
disorders was still quite high among women during the last decade. A programme
of salt iodization provides adequately iodized salt to most households but
coverage is still insufficient in some regions. Iron deficiency anemia is highly
prevalent among women of childbearing age and young children. Strategies for
combating iron deficiency anemia are urgently needed.